The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Following strange Daytona, NASCAR to consider qualifying changes at restrictor-plate tracks

  • Print

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - That strange qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway might end up being a one-time thing.

NASCAR executive Robin Pemberton said rules could be tweaked to prevent teams from trying to scheme ways to post the fastest laps during the three knockout stages.

"I think we'll learn from all of this moving forward and continue to talk and see if there's anything that we need to look at to try to make things better for the fans and better for the competitors," said Pemberton, NASCAR's vice-president of competition. "All in all, it's been a great year for qualifying and it's been a great year for a lot of different rule changes that we put into play this year.

"We'll sit down and we'll talk about some of these things toward the latter stages of the year and see what we may rub on and do a little changing or some things like that."

NASCAR's new qualifying rules package was used for the first time at Daytona in the Sprint Cup Series on Friday, and it produced some head-scratching moments as groups of cars slowed to a crawl around the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway. The small packs — most of them formed by teammates — were hoping to pull behind bigger groups and draft behind them to produce fast laps. But no one was eager to lead the way, especially not in a huge cluster of cars.

Driver reaction was mostly negative, with pole-sitter David Gilliland dubbing it "uncontrolled chaos" and defending Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. calling it "a mess" and "the funniest thing I've ever seen."

It was relatively risky, too. Several cars turned down pit road to elude the disorder. But the most common concern was the speed differences, with some drafting partners creeping along while others ran full speed.

"It was really wild and it was pretty dangerous," driver Matt Kenseth said. "There's car doing 80 (mpg) and there were cars doing 200 and nobody wanted to go. Everybody wanted to be in the back of the pack and try to catch the front to get a (fast) lap, so it was pretty chaotic."

Similar strategies were used at NASCAR's other restrictor-plate track, Talladega, in May. But not all teams were up to speed with those ploys back then. Everyone was ready Friday.

NASCAR could conceivably change the qualifying rules before the Oct. 19 race at Talladega.

Earnhardt suggested NASCAR might shorten the segments, leaving teams with less time to play cat-and-mouse games, or switch to heat races.

"I don't know if you just ball it up and throw it in the trash yet, but heat races are always fun," Earnhardt said. "You can never go wrong with heat races. We got away from them for some reason but that's what they used to run in the 50s and 60s. ... I'm not sure they are the be-all, end-all answer for everything."

Pemberton said heat races were considered when NASCAR overhauled its qualifying format in January, but ultimately not chosen because of their unpredictability.

"We didn't look at them as a bad idea," Pemberton said. "It just put teams in a position where they may not be able to compete based on accidents. We weigh those things. Heat races are exciting, but when you're qualifying two hours or so before an event, you're putting yourself in a position where others may not be able to compete at a high level.

"I'm not saying that anything is ever off the table, though. We have this stack of ideas and paperwork that we keep going to and are constantly reviewing."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Home buying

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.
  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google