NASCAR. It’s About Time

This is some good news for NASCAR fans. (not that I’m one of them or anything) If you are a fan, you may know about the Top 35 Rule. It allows the top 35 teams in owner points to be locked into the next race no matter how they qualify. That has been a bit of a problem. Most everybody is over the part of locking in the top 35, however, another problem was rearing it’s ugly head. There is usually an advantage to going late in the session, sometimes it’s better to go early. But however you fall into that sequence, there are only 8 spots open if there is no Champions Provisional. (7 if a past champ doesn’t qualify) Anyway, it looks like Nascar has evened it up a little.

NASCAR will make a major change to its Sprint Cup qualifying procedures during the 2008 season, allowing the cars in the top 35 in owner points to qualify first, followed by all cars outside the top 35.
The rest of the qualifying structure will remain the same: all the teams, regardless of point standings will participate in a random drawing to set the order in which they will qualify. NASCAR will qualify the top 35 in the order in which they drew their numbers. Once all 35 make their individual qualifying laps, the cars outside the top 35 will qualify, again using the order in which they drew their numbers.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Director John Darby said series officials decided to let the go-or-go-home cars qualify last instead of first because they felt it would be fairer. If a team outside the top 35 has to make repairs prior to qualifying they will have more time to do if they qualify at the end of the session and not the beginning.

The reason NASCAR decided to make the change is that qualifying often takes one to two hours to complete. And at some races where qualifying takes place late in the afternoon, the track can cool as much as 20 degrees from the start of qualifying until the end.

So if, for example, 55 cars were trying to qualify for a given event, 35 would be locked in and the 20 would have to race their way in. A go-or-go-home driver who drew, say, qualifying position No. 53, typically would have a much better chance of making a race than a guy who drew the fifth qualifying spot and would therefore have to make his attempt in the heat of the day.

One driver who’s lobbied hard for the change is Michael Waltrip, who failed to qualify for more than half the Sprint Cup races last season: “I started politicking for that in March or April. I saw that this wasn’t fair,” said Waltrip. “If we’re qualifying against each other, why wouldn’t we go out against each other? … If you keep all of us together, it’s fair. It doesn’t hurt anybody else, there’s no sense not to do it.”

And then there’s this.

Two other changes were announced: NASCAR will let teams purchase up to 200 actual Goodyear race tires to use at non-NASCAR-sanctioned tests. The teams can choose which compounds they want and when they want to buy the tires. In recent years, teams had to test on either obsolete Goodyears, or tires made by Hoosier or some other manufacturer.

Also, NASCAR announced Monday that starting this season, all money collected from fines issued to drivers will go to the NASCAR Foundation for its charitable initiatives.

“Now that the NASCAR Foundation is well established and supporting dozens of charitable organizations it is the logical place for fine money to be distributed,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.

These are some good changes for a sport that needs little, change.


3 Responses

  1. I can’t hold out much longer! Man, it’s been a loooooooooong off season. I’ll bet the team members don’t think so.

  2. You need to watch more football. Heh

  3. Hi nuke! Good to see you here. I liked the Superbowl, especially the final score.

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