New aero package qualifying a wacky circus, but it was entertaining

There’s no cheering allowed in the press box, but I sure hope laughing is permitted.

That’s because I spent a decent part of Friday’s qualifying session at Las Vegas — the first with the new aero rules package — cracking up. Watching the bizarre, wacky game of chicken was honestly hilarious, and I enjoyed the spectacle of the strange scene.

Now, was that the fairest way to determine the polesitter for a major league, professional race? LORD no! Does it reward the fastest car or the best driver? C’mon. Of course not. This was more of a circus than a competition.

But damn if it wasn’t entertaining in its uniquely weird way. And really, isn’t that going to be the theme of 2019 NASCAR? “Entertaining in a uniquely weird way?”

Think about it: We’re two days away from seeing a bunch of restricted-power cars with the equivalent of aerodynamic parachutes run around a track that was originally built for high-speed, balls-to-the-walls racing. Everything is different now, and this is just another sign.

I’m sure the drivers absolutely hated what happened on Friday, and I don’t blame them. If you grew up as the most elite driver in your region and ascended to the ranks of America’s top racing series, you’d probably want your talent and team’s hard work to shine through. You’d probably be disgusted at being treated like a trained monkey who gets in the car and holds it wide open while getting beat by a driver who wasn’t better than you but just got great timing with a draft.

But the world they live in — the NASCAR universe we all share as people who follow the sport — has changed in 2019. Those in charge have opted for entertainment and show business over the purity of racing, a huge gamble to try and stop the sport’s decline.

At the same time, I’m finding myself caring less about the holiness of some aspects of the weekend. That includes qualifying, because…does it really even matter?

Last year, some cars would fail to make a qualifying attempt due to inspection issues — and then drive up to the front before the end of Stage 1 like it was nothing. So why is qualifying even necessary? Who cares where drivers start?They could just do a random draw (like before the Clash) and start that way.

Yes, this qualifying session was fairly stupid, but it was also entertaining. Will I still feel that way a month or five months from now, after this has happened multiple times? Eh, maybe not. But NASCAR will probably have revamped the format by then anyway.

Maybe I’m just resigned to constant change at this point, but qualifying didn’t make me outraged or mad. I’m not jumping up and down screaming out principle and credibility. They qualified, got a starting lineup out of it and it was funny at the same time.

What’s so bad about that?

“I’ll leave that up to you guys on how to wrap your arms around it,” Kevin Harvick said after winning the pole.

Personally, I’m OK with embracing it. But I certainly understand if others don’t.

16 Replies to “New aero package qualifying a wacky circus, but it was entertaining”

  1. I agree – it was a circus. And no, it wasn’t fair. What keeps me from hating it is the thought that it doesn’t really matter, does it? There are no points or prize money for winning the pole. I just hope NASCAR gets the turnaround it is seeking before they totally destroy it.

  2. Sure it was fair. All the drivers had the same qualifying opportunity. The results, however, seem random because of the benefits of drafting.

  3. Jeff , NASCAR racing came from grassroots . It’s always been one driver against the track to prove who was best . NASCAR needs to get back to grassroots racing .

  4. Two thumbs down from me. I hated it. Any time I see cars waiting and drivers trying not to be the first to blink it defeats the purpose of qualifying. Coming soon, a rule that keeps drivers from using the draft during qualifying. And how stupid is it that we are talking about drafting now at a 1.5 mile track. Does this mean that in order to win you need drafting partners? If so then this change is for the worse. I tolerate that codependence at the RP tracks but it will really suck if that becomes the norm at half the races,

  5. Maybe single run qualifying with this package should be the way to make it fair. I’m 100% still onboard with this change but the old school qualifying may be the way to go. Anyways it doesn’t matter to me how they qualify seeing as I live in Canada and Fox Sports 1 has fucked us Canadians out of any weekly NASCAR shows, anything to do with Truck racing including no Truck race and now they have taken Cup qualifying away from us. Doesn’t make much sense when trying to regrow a sport but I’m honestly at this point not upset. As long as I can watch on Sunday fine by me.

  6. Single car qualifying is the ONLY way it should
    be . That dog and pony show at Vegas was a stupid joke . Again NASCAR keeps looking like
    idiots and more fans go away
    Looked more like a Chinese Fire Drill than
    qualifying 🤬🤬🤬

  7. I listened to qualifying and it sounded ridiculous but I’m sure it was fun to watch . I sure hope Nascar knows what their doing much more of this is going to be annoying to long time fans in my opinion. Before I get to concerned I’m going to enjoy the racing.

  8. Qualifying is suppose to be who has fastest car not who can sit around a and wait for 2 minutes to go and see who can catch a draft and get a fast time!! If going to restrict the cars go to single car like Daytona and talledaga does. Have wait and see if race is better. Nothing do far this year has impressed me as a follower since late 70’s. Everything is turning into a video came trying to control outcome. Why don’t ROWDY run some KN races maybe could get to 200 faster!!!👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎

  9. I voted that I didn’t like it. But I respect all the other opinions.
    Eager to watch the race on TV.

  10. I’m glad we are trying something new. These drivers and teams are smart and will figure out the best way to get a fast time. It’s still a competition so I’m OK with it.

  11. One positive is RCR is looking fast with ordinary drivers in both series which is a good thing. Would love to see them get a third car and sign C Bell next year. Put him in the #29.

    1. Munchkin Man #3 car needs to get Wizard of Oz sponsorship
      Then I’d have something to entertain me on Sundays 😜

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