Another week another qualifying incident.
Unfortunately for NASCAR, fans, this incident wasn’t as interesting and involved the 12 drivers that qualified for the final session all failing to post a lap time before time ran out. Needless to say, NASCAR officials weren’t very happy with the results and didn’t waste any time apologizing to the fans.
“That’s what you don’t want,” Scott Miller, Vice President of Competition told reporters after the session. “Obviously having the last 12 cars wait until they couldn’t get a time posted on the board and kind of making a mockery of the qualifying is not what we expect for our fans.”
With that being said, NASCAR was eventually forced to set the qualifying order by times from the second round, thus giving Austin Dillon the pole for Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway. beside him with will be former Cup Series champion, Kevin Harvick, who has yet to win a race this season.
Interestingly enough, the reported reason that no one wanted to post a qualifying time until the end of the session was due to none of the drivers wanting to be the first in the draft. The belief was that a driver could use the draft off of the car in front of them to improve their times, but no one wanted to be the first one out to fill that role.
“It’s a little bit on us in that we hoped, we hoped things would go better than that,” he said. “It’s an exciting show when they’re out there on the race track, but obviously we have a little work to do on our part to get a little bit better formats like that so things like that can’t happen.”
Miller also claimed that there would likely be no changes made to the qualifying sessions during next weekends race at Martinsville, but also said that they might roll out a new format in two weeks at Texas. Either way, NASCAR seems utterly embarrassed by this incident and thus angry at their drivers for creating the situation.
In the end, this is not the kind of press that NASCAR needs right now, especially since they are still very much a sport in transition and should focus on fixing this issue as soon as possible. Furthermore, they need to have real consequences the next time drivers play with the rules like this.
For example, maybe NASCAR officials dictate that all drivers must be on the track when the session starts, which will allow everyone to at least post a time. Then again, maybe NASCAR goes with a big swing and turns the qualifying sessions into races that dwindle down the field after each segment.