Published on March 11th, 2014 | by Michael J Smith0
NASCAR Tweaks Qualifying Format
After several driver complaints about safety during the new qualifying format, NASCAR announced changes to the format.
- One cooling unit may be connected to the left or right side hood flap/cowl flap to cool down the engine during qualifying but the hood must remain closed.
- Connecting a generator will not be allowed.
- Two crew members will be allowed over the wall to support the car and driver.
- No cool down laps will be permitted.
NASCAR announced that it would move to a group qualifying format in which all cars could make qualifying runs at the same time. Then, the 24 cars with the fastest single lap time would move on to the second round. Those 24 would make qualifying runs at the same time. Then, the 12 fastest would move on to the final round where the top 12 positions would be set based on the fastest time during that round.
Because NASCAR did not allow teams to cool their engines on pit road, drivers would creep around the apron of the track to cool their engines.
As a result, cars on the apron would be doing 30 miles per hour a few feet from cars going more than 190 miles per hour, making their qualifying runs.
Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers said:
Riding around the bottom – we’ve got to do it, it’s the only way to keep the engine cool – but that has got to be the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in racing. [Reed Sorenson] went by me at 170 mph faster than I was going. Had he slipped or hit me, I’d be done. It would be so bad.
MWR’s Clint Bowyer also expressed concern:
We’ve got to stop that. … I about smoked [Dale Earnhardt Jr]. That’s not the guy you want to hit at a 140 mph deficit. [A collision is] going to hurt me and it might hurt Dale Jr., and that would be bad for business.
Initially, NASCAR told drivers to give it some time because it was early in the process.
Today, they listened.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said:
Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.