If you’re mad at NASCAR officials for 13 cars failing to make a lap in qualifying Friday at Auto Club Speedway, you’re angry at the wrong people.
Getting upset is understandable; everyone wants to see all cars on the track. But blame the race teams, not those trying to keep them within the rules.
NASCAR has vastly improved its technology this year with the new Optical Scanning Station, an inspection system which drivers and crew chiefs alike agree has been much more consistent and reliable than anything NASCAR had in the past.
If a team fails inspection now, there’s little mystery why it happened: Because that team was trying to push the limits as much as possible and went over the line.
NASCAR gives three hours for teams to get through pre-qualifying inspection. Three hours! But when only 12 of the 37 cars pass on the first try, which was the case on Friday, not everyone is going to have time to make it through three times.
All the teams who didn’t get to make a lap? They all had enough time to make at least two passes through inspection. And they failed.
How is that NASCAR’s fault? The answer: It’s not.
Most of the teams now have Optical Scanning Stations in their race shops! They know exactly what can pass and what doesn’t.
NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said teams were failing the body scan for a variety of reasons on Friday, but he saw many not passing because of the rear window area.
Hmm. Have you heard anything about that area recently? Ah, right.
Look, Auto Club Speedway is the most aero-dependent track NASCAR has visited so far. So it’s no wonder teams are trying to squeeze all they can out of the rules.
Miller said the number of cars that passed on the first inspection attempt last week was in the mid-20s and had been climbing higher in the last couple races. Clearly, the teams know how to pass the body scan if when they want to.
But they showed up at Fontana trying to get some more speed, and it made a mockery out of qualifying.
“(It) absolutely, 100 percent frustrates me,” Miller said. “We’re in the business of putting on a show for everybody who watches our sport and this is not a great story. So it’s frustrating for me that we can’t seem to get over this hump.”