Cup qualifying takes on bizarre feel again

Despite some tweaks to the Cup Series qualifying format, Friday at Texas looked a lot like previously messy qualifying sessions at Fontana and Las Vegas.

Drivers were upset with how the session unfolded, with cars mostly waiting on pit road until the final minutes and then scrambling to try and get laps recorded before time ran out.

“You just can’t qualify these cars this way,” Kevin Harvick said. “I love group qualifying, but I just laughed all the way out to the racetrack.”

“It’s frustrating and that’s all you can really say about it,” Denny Hamlin said. “It’s just frustrating.”

“It’s chaotic,” Aric Almirola said. “It’s silly.”

But NASCAR in turn criticized the drivers, believing they could have done more to avoid the session turning into a strange spectacle.

NASCAR Cup Series Managing Director Jay Fabian said officials were “disappointed” to see drivers stay on pit road for so long before making their lap and cited Daniel Suarez as a driver who didn’t need the draft to qualify well. He questioned why other drivers didn’t follow Suarez’s lead.

“It’s disappointing they give reasons why they don’t go, then someone goes and they choose not to follow them,” Fabian said of the drivers. “A lot of what they say doesn’t add up with their actions on pit road. That’s the disappointing part. When you see someone roll, you would assume somebody would follow them — and they chose not to.”

Fabian vowed NASCAR would “take whatever steps we have to to clean it up so we don’t have this problem again.”

“Pretty much everything is on the table as far as what we’ll do moving forward,” he added.

Fabian also said Clint Bowyer’s complaints about Ryan Newman clogging the middle at the end of Round 1 were a product of Bowyer being “upset…probably because he didn’t get to make his lap” — and Newman didn’t do anything worth being penalized.

“There were plenty of TV views that showed there was room to go by (Newman),” Fabian said. “I’m sure (Bowyer) is upset.”

Bowyer was indeed upset, feeling like NASCAR should have learned from its previous qualifying “failure” and changed the format before this happened again.

“It’s sad,” Bowyer said. “Those people up there paid a lot of money to bring their families here to watch a qualifying session where people try to go out and do their best, and you’re just sitting around waiting because you know your best is only good enough if the guy in front of you does a good job.  That’s not qualifying.”

Martin Truex Jr. said the solution would be to “Take the plate off and let us qualify like men — drive them,” he said.

But while many drivers were fuming, Joey Logano wasn’t. Asked about how to fix qualifying, Logano said, “Who said there’s a problem?”

“I think it’s entertaining,” Logano said. “There’s a lot to talk about for you guys. You guys all have microphones out and there’s a lot to talk about, so I think it’s OK.”

28 Replies to “Cup qualifying takes on bizarre feel again”

  1. Lagano is an idiot. That qualifying was a joke . It sure was not entertaining. And Clint Boyer was absolutely correct. An epic failure.

    1. I love the irony of someone calling someone an idiot and can’t spell their name correctly…..a name that is literally spelled correctly in the story right above this comment

        1. The only way that was done on purpose, is if your mom let’s you handle her account while you aren’t hanging out at 4th grade recess 🙂

          1. Qualifying sould be free if they want fans to get their money’s worth.

            Qualifying races with inverted field based on last race results if they want a show.

      1. Never thought I would get bullied for being sarcastic. It’s always easy for someone to come after you when they can hide behind a keyboard.

  2. NASCAR blaming the drivers for NASCAR’s failure to revert to single car quals once it was obvious this will never work is immature and embarrassing. High Five for NASCAR trying something different but competent management knows it is okay to say it failed and revert to what worked for 60yrs.

  3. Clint Bowyer is 100% corrrect
    This qualifying process is a damn joke !!!
    NASCAR continues to look like a fool !!!!
    Fire the management in control !!👍

  4. Why isn’t nascar doing their normal fix? Add more spoiler. Also, might as well take another couple hundred horsepower out while they are at it.

  5. Speaking of mockeries. Going forward this sure frees up time on my Friday afternoons and saves a hotel night as I won’t be watching.

  6. Unless NASCAR wants to field a drafting car to lead the cars out onto the track I don’t know how you are going to try and get drivers to leave early and let the rest draft behind them.

  7. Go back to single car qualifying on Friday and then impound the cars. Then make them race without further practice. Boom done deal, they will whine like little kids then.

  8. 1. Hugh Gray wins – see above.
    2. Why isn’t there an “up” or “like” button that we can click on the comments?
    3. Enjoyed the Bowyer and Almirola video clips that were posted on Twitter.

  9. Read this exact quote on several websites: 👉🏻 Each track will now have “staging area” for qualifying and once a vehicle LEAVES that area, it must CONTINUE DIRECTLY onto the race track and the car CANNOT stop or SLOW while “properly accelerating to make a qualifying attempt”. It didn’t happen.
    This from another 👉🏻 Any driver who BLOCKS pit road and prohibits other drivers from exiting pit road will INCUR a PENALTY. It didn’t happen either.

    Something I very rarely do is blast NASCAR but I let them (Steve Phelps, Steve O’Donnell, Brent Dewar) have it, several times, today. They screwed Bowyer big time!! Newman’s time should have disallowed, therefore putting Clint in the second round.

    And I would like for whoever this Jay Fabian guy is, to explain WHY they told Newman to move up a few spots, putting him in the middle of pit road where THEY said driver’s were not supposed to be???

    Capitalization are my own 😉

  10. The answer is really simple. At tracks where drafting is in effect for qualifying, they have to go back to single car runs. Why do they think everything they do has to produce “game 7” moments? the purpose of quals is to put the fastest cars at the front of the pack. So do that.

  11. Go single car. Make cars go out they way practiced from worse to first. Get two laps. After first car makes fist lap second car goes out and continue for rest. If car don’t get up to speed on first lap disallow time. Would be at least it’s qualifing not drafting for the pole. No game playing.

  12. One 90 minute practice.
    Single car qualifying 3 rounds knockout style.
    Impound until the race.
    Would be good stuff.

  13. I love racing, but this is foolish. Haven’t been to a race this season and have only played DK twice. I have no interest this year.

  14. Maybe should call it monster energy iroc series. Let one company build cars all the same. Might as will watch a simulated race at a arcade!!! There is no excitement anymore with new rules. Go back to wat was no splitter.

  15. Simple fix…you leave your pit box, you move directly to the track to qualify.
    Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
    NO STAGING area. Period.
    Daniel Suarez proved you really didn’t have to have drafting partners to get a decent time.

  16. I would prefer single-file qualifying. It’s nice to know the ability of each car and driver individually but I prefer the “show” on day of race.

  17. All the top drivers should refuse to qualify, be forced to start at the rear and then they should just start and park. Nascar will get that message loud and clear.

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