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Sunday, January 26, 2014

New qualifying - jury's still out for me for now

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(Photo credit: rogerblake2)
Before making any pre-judgement, I want to see how the new qualifying format changes set for this year actually play out on the track.

I used to enjoy watching single-car qualifying on Friday night. I think it will be much more exciting to watch actual racing determine the qualifying order for races.

That said, I can see plenty of room for interpretation in this new format. For example, what if there is a wreck? NASCAR says  the wrecked car is done because only pit road repairs will be permitted--pretty black and white--I like that. But what about scoring loops, throwing a caution, stopping the field, re-starting the field, all the other issues that go on week after week during a race. Controversy almost always surrounds decisions made by NASCAR as to when and how to interpret the rules. I'm not sure how this will be any different.

When a race is stopped, what the order of the cars are, when times are calculated--it is all open to interpretation. The grey area seems to be when NASCAR has problems.

Some say this change is just another gimmick to entice fans.

That's OK, but I want to know how it will help the racing. That is the most important part. After all, this is supposed to be a race, not an entertainment venue. Extra efforts to turn racing into strictly entertainment is wrong-headed. Racing is entertaining. It doesn't need any more than that to entice racing fans. Ironically, many of the gimmicks have chased real racing fans away from the sport.

If this new format means that Jimmie Johnson will start every race on the front row, I'm going to hate it.

That isn't because Johnson isn't a good driver, but mostly it is because Chad Knaus is a really good Crew Chief who isn't afraid to push any envelope to put speed into the car. That is a given. But to me, winning races shouldn't be only about just speed. It has to be about the overall effort of the entire team with an emphasis on the driver's skill at wheeling the race car around the track better than anyone else. There needs to be less emphasis on the engineering skills to turn out the fastest race car.

Again,  I plan to stay on the fence for now. I lean toward liking this new idea, but I won't hesitate to wave a red flag the minute NASCAR favors one driver over another in that grey area.

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