A) The term draft or drafting refers to when two or more cars open a hole in the air allowing for cars further in the line/group to travel faster with less throttle.
B) NASCAR’s group qualifying consists of three rounds. Round 1, all cars qualify and the top 24 fastest cars advance to round 2. Then after round 2, the top 12 fastest cars advance to round 3 to fight for the number one starting spot for the race.
In 2019, NASCAR debuted a new aero package that was intended to tighten up the racing on the track. And so far, it seems to be working.
But what NASCAR didn’t think of is how this would affect the qualifying.
A couple years ago, NASCAR implemented group qualifying, doing away with the single car qualifying format.
Except, when the new qualifying format came out, NASCAR realized at the bigger tracks like Daytona and Talladega, the draft played a HUGE ROLE! It became a situation where nobody wanted to lead the group of cars while qualifying because they were automatically the slowest car, the fastest car was the last car in the line.
The solution NASCAR came up with was to have single car qualifying at those bigger tracks like they had done for years.
NASCAR didn’t change the group qualifying format at any other track because the draft didn’t play a factor – until this year.
With the bigger downforce package NASCAR put out this season, the tracks that are a mile and a half or bigger are allowing for more drafting, which is causing issues during qualifying.
Of the first five races in the 2019 schedule, only four have used the group qualifying format (the Daytona 500, race one on the schedule, uses single-car qualifying). Three of the tracks were a mile and a half or bigger, and with each qualifying session we saw this issue getting bigger and bigger.
The issue is that in the final round of group qualifying, the 12 final cars who are fighting for the number one starting spot, wait on the end of pit road until the absolute LAST minute to go out and race back to the start-finish line to start one single lap.
No issue right? Well when they raced in Las Vegas, the group of 12 cars raced against the clock, and when the NASCAR race director came over the radios and said “session complete in 3…2…1…,” three of the 12 cars weren’t allowed to start their laps because they didn’t beat the clock.
Well that was just the beginning. This past weekend, NASCAR raced in California. That final round of qualifying, none of the 12 cars made it back to the start/finish line to start their one lap. In this case, NASCAR had to set positions 1-12 off the lap times posted in round 2.
NASCAR was upset and disappointed.
But, not for anyone except…
Long story short, NASCAR expects the drivers and teams to put on an exciting show for the fans to enjoy. And honestly, watching 12 drivers duel it out for one lap to determine the first starting position is a lot more exciting than watching one car…at…a…time…zzzzzz
NASCAR wants to fix this, but how?
The idea that EVERY fan is hoping DOES NOT happen is the reinstate single car qualifying.
NASCAR threw out the idea of anyone who doesn’t put down a timed lap, automatically starts in the back of the field. So with what happened this past weekend, the driver who qualified 13th in round 2, would have automatically took the number 1 spot and the 12 drivers that didn’t qualify would make up positions 28-40.
My opinion? Well, in a general sense, NASCAR needs to step back and stop making rules and trying to “fix” the sport. Leave it alone, and let it grow from where it is right now. Obviously, the 11 teams that started 2-12 this past weekend won’t let that happen again. And every other team is thinking “wow, let’s never screw up that much that we don’t even have a chance for the top spot.” So before NASCAR comes in and “fixes” the issues, let’s see what the teams do first.
If NASCAR must step it, then implement the starting from the rear rule. That will push the teams to get out on track and give the fans a show.
Here’s my closing thoughts as well as my message to NASCAR: lay off rewriting the rule book every chance you get. Make rules and leave them be. If you need to change anything, wait until the season is over unless it’s about safety. Fans don’t like change, especially since even the media members who eat, sleep and breath this sport have no idea what is happening. That’s why this sport is dying.
Just my thoughts, see you all in a couple weeks.