Saturday, March 8, 2014

NASCAR will evaluate new qualifying process and make changes if necessary

   NASCAR officials will continue to monitor and evaluate its new knock out qualifying procedures, which have drawn almost universal praise by competitors and fans but have also raised some potential safety concerns.

   During Friday’s Cup series session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there were some close calls on the track with cars running at full speed to post fast laps nearly missing cars running off the pace while attempting to cool their engines between runs.

   Driver Brian Vickers, who won the first of three rounds, called the session “the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in a race car.”

  Friday’s session was just the first on a superspeedway and first using the three-round format.

   “As we discussed with the teams in the offseason, we expected to use the first few weeks of the season to get a good snapshot of how things went and how things played out on various size race tracks,” said NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp. “We’re still in that process.

   “However, the new format has been deemed a success almost universally by the competitors, promoters and fans and that is a very positive development for the sport. We’re getting great feedback and ideas from the garage and if we can tweak it to make it even better moving forward we will.”

   Teams have the ability to address the problem now, if they elected to remove tape from their front grille areas. But unless every team decided to do so, some teams would have an advantage over others.

   When NASCAR first announced the new qualifying procedures it was not going to allow teams to make any changes to the cars during the sessions. It was only upon receiving feedback from teams NASCAR elected to allow some changes to be made.