Never Had a Chance, NASCAR’s Qualifying Procedure Broken

By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on

Qualifying for the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 was canceled Friday. As a result three drivers had to go home without even getting a chance to prove if they deserved to be in the field. Casey Mears, Terry Cook, and Johnny Sauter will all watch the Sprint Cup Series race from the discomfort of their couch instead of from their carbon fiber race seats.

This is the latest example of why NASCAR’s qualifying procedure is broken.

For years NASCAR’s starting lineup due to a qualifying rain out has been based on Sprint Cup Series owner’s points, and in the shuffle someone always has to go home… but is there a better way? Heck yes there is, and it is actually because of the Top-35 rule.

Saturday morning at Martinsville it was beautiful, sunny, and clear. The track was empty and silent. My question is: With the top-35 rule, no matter what we have 35 guys locked into the field. So in the event of a rain out why can’t we have the go-or-go-home guys fight it out in a mini-qualifying session the next morning for the final eight spots in the field?

It’s a simple way to ensure everyone has a chance to make the field, and with only eight to twelve cars usually vying for the spots, it would be a speedy process.

Maybe Casey Mears, Terry Cook and Johnny Sauter would have went home anyway this morning, but at least they could of went down swinging.

Author: Toby Christie

Toby is the Editor of 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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