Qualifying: Time For Change Is Now

By Toby Christie (Originally Appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)

There once was a day where a pole position was such a prestigious achievement.  For that week you were the driver who laid down the fastest lap.  Back in the day it was a huge deal and a lot of people would pack the grandstands to see who would lay down the fastest lap.

These days it seems the drivers don’t put nearly the effort into qualifying as they used to.  Maybe its because the current qualifying sessions are outdated and now boring, we’ve worked so hard to spice the racing up that we’ve forgotten all about qualifying.

How can we make qualifying more exciting for the fans?  There are three obvious ways to spice up qualifying.

1. Make Sure Qualifying Actually Happens

Five times thus far this season qualifying has been rained out leaving the field to be set by the rule book.  The fact that NASCAR has not decided to make a backup plan to get qualifying in the next day is a huge mistake.

Every time a qualifying session is rained out the points leader starts out front and gets an all but automatic five bonus points to his season totals, while others, who may be faster on the given week, are stuck further in the field.

How can we still qualify if the rain cancels Friday’s session?  Well it is simple…  Push qualifying to bright and early Saturday morning, especially at tracks such as Pocono and Indy where there is no Nationwide race at the track that weekend.

2. Make Qualifying Matter Again

This one will probably never happen because NASCAR loves the top 35 rule, but half of the intrigue of qualifying used to be to see who would go home.  These days however the top 35 in points are guaranteed a spot even if the top 10 fastest cars somehow were lower than 35th in owner points and that is wrong (Ask Boris Said).

I understand NASCAR created things like the past champion provisional because Richard Petty missed a race once, and they created provisionals to prevent big names from missing the show, but now before qualifying even begins we know over 80 percent of the drivers that will compete Sunday.  This is ridiculous and needs to be changed.

We should also give a few bonus points for the pole, maybe five bonus points for each pole, this would make each driver give it their all every Friday.

3. Shorten Up The Session

At tracks such as Daytona, Talladega, Indianapolis, Pocono, Infineon, and Watkins Glen qualifying takes around two hours, because it takes roughly a minute per lap, per car to get around these tracks, this makes watching paint dry instead sound appealing.

How can we fix this?  Send two to four cars on the track at a time spaced out by 10 to 20 seconds apart. This will cut the session at least in half, and giving fans more than one thing to focus on at a time.  It would be much like the F1 qualifying procedure, except instead of giving a time limit to the group of cars on track we would just give each cars two laps to lay down a quick lap.

In the past few years NASCAR has made huge changes to make races and the point standings more exciting, such as The chase for the cup and the double file restart rule, it is now time for them to address the troubling state of qualifying.

Author: Toby Christie

Toby is the Editor of TheFinalLap.com and Social Media Director of all things @TheFinalLap. He is the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly radio show and podcast, and he is the writer and co-host of the Racing Legends podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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