Tuesday, July 24, 2012

COMMENTARY: Proposed Sprint Cup Qualifying Change Is Long Overdue

“Arranging Day” may no longer be a part of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends in 2013. 

Multiple sources say the sanctioning body is approaching drivers, crew chiefs and team owners seeking feedback on a major change to the Sprint Cup qualifying next season.  

In recent years, the sanctioning body has awarded guaranteed starting spots to the Top-35 teams in owner points. Teams outside the Top-35 – known as “Go Or Go Home” teams – are left to fight over the seven remaining spots at the back of the field, with the final spot reserved for a Past Champion. The current system ensures that the sport’s biggest stars compete every week, but it saps all the excitement from qualifying day, since the vast majority of teams arrive at the track with a guaranteed starting spot already in hand.  

While well-meaning, NASCAR’s current qualifying procedure has neutered “Qualifying Day” into “Arranging Day.” Most weeks, very few fans turn out to watch. And those that do are treated to a two-hour advertisement for Sominex. 

NASCAR’s proposed new system could change all that. 

If approved, the fastest 38 cars in time trials will qualify for the main event next season, regardless of the point standings. Positions 39-42 will go to the four highest-ranking point drivers who failed to qualify on time, with the 43rd position still awarded via Past Champion’s Provisional. 

Fans won’t have to worry about Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or Kyle Busch missing the cut on race day, since in all but the most extreme cases, a quartet of point-based provisionals will safeguard high-ranking teams. Sponsors can continue to rest easy, knowing that their multi-million dollar investment will almost certainly be a part of the field every Sunday. Smaller teams will also benefit, since there will be a whopping 38 starting spots awarded on speed each week, rather than the current seven.  

It’s a win/win/win situation, and it is long overdue.

32 comments:

  1. I hope this change is enacted Dave.

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  2. Anonymous12:17 PM

    so brilliant....you must have thought of it !
    GOD FATHER

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  3. Anonymous12:17 PM

    It's about time for this change

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  4. SnowdogBob12:23 PM

    The Top-35 year was created in an era of over 43 fully funded teams (I still remember well MW going home week after week with his Napa car) we're now down to less than 25 fully funded teams. I liked the idea of "Top 35" at the time because it was talked about like a "Franchise" that could be sold for someone like Junie (#90) or Bud (#15) who closed up their operations for pennies on the dollar, but the annual selling of points and requiring fake names as the owner of the team has made a joke of this. I remember well many years ago when two day qualifying required actual decision making by teams and I think it was Kyle Petty who got bit at New Hampshire when he stood on his time (as fastest not locked in) and every car that went out for second round beat his time when the next day was much cooler. Putting some excitement back in Qualifying sounds great to me.

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    1. Anonymous7:12 PM

      Good post with relevant historical references. The "rumored" proposed format sounds good to me too.

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  5. Anonymous12:24 PM

    That will last until one of the "hot dogs" don't make the show!

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  6. Anonymous12:25 PM

    I hope that it work out and gets approved to put more excitement back in Nascar.Now get the long races shorter to create more racing from the drop of the green flag,tired of watching cars ride around waiting to race.

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  7. The Debster12:31 PM

    can hardly wait to see what everyone finds wrong with this cause it's way too perfect

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  8. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Once again, as much as everyone wants to criticize NASCAR, they ARE listening to the fans. You might argue that the economy is also a factor, but in the end, we fans benifit. Can't wait. Have missed the excitement of qualifying day for too long.

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  9. Doug M12:37 PM

    This will be great, until a start and park team qualifies and a team that runs the entire race doesn't.

    How will this affect impound races?

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  10. Mike K12:38 PM

    About dang time they did something like this!!! The top 35 rule was a joke that only served to make the rich richer and the poor teams fight over scraps, with nearly no chance to ever get ahead.

    The current system allows the top 35 teams to spend almost no time focusing on qualifying and instead use practice for race setup tuning, while the go-or-go-homers largely had to do the opposite, causing them to often (if they managed to be able to afford to stay in the whole race) have cars so far off from what was needed as to be totally non-competitive.

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  11. Fabulous! Hope this happens.

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  12. Dianeinla1:06 PM

    Finally. Although they had this perfectly good system (with 2 more provisionals) BEFORE they went to Top 35. If it ain't broke...

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  13. Anonymous1:20 PM

    Unless there is a chance a top team can miss a race nothing is different. Seriously it's not that different than the top 35 rule

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  14. I have to say I'm open to the idea!

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  15. Top 12 should be garawreed,everbody eles race in,

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    1. Anonymous2:22 PM

      No, no, no. Guaranteeing the top 12 gives an undue advantage to the top 10 that would act to provide a greater assurance that they will be there all season long. As it is, they usually end u p there for the long-haul, but that's a product of being in the same basket as all of their other competitors. If you take qualifying out of the mix for the top 12, you provide them with an advantage during practice. While everyone else has to give some consideration to qualifying, they wouldn't and can spend more time on the race setup.

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  16. Robert G.1:44 PM

    I agree with Doug M. All will be well until some big name doesn't make it in to a race because they they are low in points.
    Will teams still be using last years points for the first 5 races?

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  17. Anonymous2:36 PM

    I like it I love it I want some more of it...

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  18. Anonymous4:17 PM

    Back when most of the spots were awarded to the fastest cars per time trials, the well funded teams spent much more time,focus & money on time trials instead of race trim & the results were very similar to what we have now except for the few times an underfunded team would qualify well only to drop thru the field like a hot rock once the green flag dropped.
    I hope this move doesn't effect the quality of racing on Sun only to help the show on Fri! The big teams will prevail no matter what the scenario is.

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  19. Anonymous4:40 PM

    Greg Biffle will find a reason to complain.....


    Doug from NJ

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  20. Anonymous5:13 PM

    I hope they keep this in place for the Daytona 500 also. It is a HUGE boon to an under-funded team when one of the majors misses the race and has to buy a ride. I remember Richard Petty competing in D.K. Ulrich's lime green #6 in the World 600 at Charlotte. Give us back meaningful qualifying races at Daytona - those used to be the best races of the year!

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  21. Anonymous6:04 PM

    Not that much different than it was before the Top 35 rule. Then it was the fastest 36, the next 6 were highest in points, then the past champion. No matter what they do, it's time to retire the top 35 rule.

    Steve in TX

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  22. The solution should be - no more go-homers. Qualifying is supposed to determine where you start, not whether you start.

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  23. Anonymous7:54 PM

    I just wish NASCAR would stop screwing with the sport. Brian France is not the genius his father and grandfather were.

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  24. Instead of single-car qualifying runs, how about doing three 30-50 lap qualifying races with split grids, like IndyCar did at Iowa? At the same time, races could be shortened to 200 miles in short tracks and 300 miles in intermediates and superspeedways.

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  25. Anonymous10:26 PM

    t's about time!

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  26. Anonymous10:30 PM

    want people to go watch qualifying.....do what they did in the past.....you have the Sunday ticket, you watch qualifying for free....

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  27. So we're going to go back to the old system. With 2 extra in on speed. At least I hope that is what we do.

    The top 35 rule is one I hated from day one and will be long glad to see go to the wayside. The series that should really benefit in terms of hopefully adding quality competition should be the Nationwide Series. The split between the fastest and slowest has been abysmal for years. Perhaps this will clean up some of the start and park problems too.

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  28. If NASCAR follows PBA bowling in eliminating the All Exempt Tour (the PBA will eliminate the All Exempt Tour this upcoming season), then there would likely be a few rules needed:

    1. Only the Top 20 could qualify on Friday, with the final 15 cars determined on Saturday qualifying with the stay or run again option. A short-distance race (under 100km) consolation race would be run, with the top four cars making the race. The next three spots would be filled by provisionals (top teams in points) with the former champion's provisional taking the last spot, if needed. Otherwise, the next highest team not qualified would take the last spot. If the qualifying race is rained out, then times would determine the spots. If Day One qualifying (Thursday at Indianapolis because of the Grand-Am race Friday) is rained out, all 35 positions will be determined in Saturday qualifying. In a Saturday night race, qualifying stays Friday and the Saturday qualifying session and consolation race will be at a reasonable time before the race (morning or lunchtime).

    2. Teams in the consolation race do not need to participate in final practice, since the 100km race is the equivalent to a final practice.

    3. The points system would revert to the classic Latford system, with one difference: 190 points for a race win, and follow the Nationwide/Truck format before the points change in that teams that do not qualify will earn points, albeit based on qualifying race (or qualifying race) results.

    4. Top 20 rule: If only one round of qualifying is held, and no second round qualifying AND last chance race were held, the top 20 in points are assured slots in the race.

    The Petty incident in 1986 was a byproduct of NASCAR not allowing teams to have backup cars. NASCAR eventually allowed teams entered to provide a spare chassis, similar to what INDYCAR and F1 allow.

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    1. Anonymous8:51 PM

      ZZZZZ.... ZZZZZZZZZZZZ....... Yawn.......... ZZZZZ

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  29. Anonymous2:58 PM

    good move Nascar. Get rid of the chase and I'll be a customer again.

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