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Thursday, October 9, 2008

NASCAR too quick to cancel qualifying, should be more flexible with schedule

The qualifying session for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 was going to be an interesting one.

Three drivers -- Scott Speed, Brad Keselowski and Bryan Clauson -- were going to attempt to make their first ever start in a Cup race. Also, where would the Chase contenders line up on Saturday night?

But Mother Nature stepped in, and tonight’s qualifying session was rained out.

I’m fully aware NASCAR can’t control the weather, but they miss the ball when these situations occur by immediately setting the field by points.

I see no logic in NASCAR’s mindset that qualifying can only be done at one time, and can never be postponed to the next morning. The schedule must be more flexible, as the teams that come to qualify have put a lot of time and money into their cars, and effort should be made to give them the chance to qualify. These cancellations are especially hard on the smaller, less-funded teams.

After the 2000 season, NASCAR struck a blow to these smaller teams by getting rid of second-round qualifying. Under the old format, the top 25 drivers were locked in after the first qualifying session. Then, the following day, teams were given the option to make another attempt at qualifying, and by posting an improved time they could bump out drivers who had made it on the first day.

Now, in what comes off to me as kicking the little guy when he’s down, NASCAR in recent years has completely abandoned the thought that maybe they could squeeze in qualifying the next day when rain hits. This is especially troubling when it happens at tracks where a lot of part-timers try out such as Watkins Glen, when proven talents like Boris Said are often left out of the race because their part-time status leaves them out of the lineup due to a rainout. Doing so robs the viewer of a race featuring the best and most talented drivers, and is the wrong thing to do.

Also, situations like today, where a lot of young talent is trying to make the race, are also completely ruined by NASCAR’s inflexibility with its weekend schedule. Adding insult to injury, a revised track schedule announced late Thursday gives the Nationwide drivers an early practice session Friday. That would have been a perfect time for Cup qualifying.

NASCAR has no justification for simply refusing to fudge its schedule a little bit in these situations. They owe it to the drivers, teams and fans to do everything they can to allow qualifying to happen … and it’s clear they really don’t care whether qualifying happens, which is a shame.

Drivers don't forget
Drivers often try to pass off that after a wreck, they forget about who caused it and move on. Apparently Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards don't subscribe to that theory. According to reports, Edwards left a note on Harvick's airplane "thanking" Harvick for the disparaging comments he made about Edwards' driving at Talledega, which caused a wreck that collected Harvick. According to published reports, the note sarcastically read, "I was really trying to screw up everyone's day. Love, Carl."

Once the teams arrived at the Charlotte garage, Edwards apparently went to talk to Harvick, and things got a bit heated. According to reports, Harvick tried to walk away and Edwards grabbed him and spun him around. Then, Harvick shoved Edwards. Crew members got involved to separate them and Edwards ended up in a headlock.

Considering Harvick was right about the way Edwards drove at Talladega, he really had no right to start trouble about the comments. Harvick called it like it is, and apparently Edwards doesn't like it when people speak the truth. Between this silly incident, which was clearly instigated by Edwards, and pretending he was going to hit his own teammate Matt Kenseth after an argument last year, it's no wonder Edwards doesn't appear to have too many friends in the garage area.


Blogger wickedj said...

What NASCAR needs to do in a situation like this is. ok its raining lock the top 35 in via points and let 35-43 qualify the next morning or best it takes a hour and lets the non top 35 guys get their run in

October 10, 2008 at 12:35 AM 
Anonymous Dan said...

Matt I have been on the other side of your arguments for several weeks now but I find that this week we strongly agree on both your points:

1. On your second point, man I think Edwards is a brooding personality behind the scenes instead of this Eddie Haskel thing he does on TV. That dark side -- like a wife or husband who won't let it go -- showed up at Martinsville last year to his own teamate. And now the latest with Harvick. What a place to have a fuss in front of all these people. Why not duke it out back of the hangar where there millions dollar jets are parked and where no one will interfere or make a story out of? Ole Jack Roush said in 2004 that he was tired of being Kurt Busch's apologist. Looks like he is having to dust off his PR handbook if Carl keeps on going.

2. On your first point: Amen and Amen. A little weather and they wrap it up and go home. Hell I remember when the transporters left for the track on Tues night for a Wednes tech inspection and Thurs-Fri-Sat practice and qualifying. That turned out be be over the years way too long. Now NASCAR has gone the other way. These teams spend a lot of time on the road but now spend more time testing in the middle of the week at tracks not on the Cup schedule and barely enough times at tracks on the weekend with a Cup date! LMS qualifying could have rolled over to today. I don't care what Ramsey 'get all you can get at the checkered flag' Poston says about it. As a fan I was looking forward to Scott Speed and Brad K getting a chance to run with the big boys. And it could have happened easily.

These days NASCAR continues to draw many things out way too long. Ever noticed on race day start times just get pushed (as Larry Mac says "fathu and fathu") in the day? Must be to sell commercials. But summer afternoon thundershowers seem creep in and affect the race. If they started at noon or noon-thirty it might work better. Same with qualifying. Fans and teams trying to make the race deserve better. And these decisions are arbitrary for the ease of NASCAR. It's not for anything else no matter what any PR hack flack says to the media. They could DO better, they just choose NOT to.

October 10, 2008 at 5:48 AM 
Anonymous Dan said...

wickedj not a bad idea at all. After all qualifying is somewhat a joke now that the top 35 rule has been in place. But in this instance, since NASCAR rules are...let's say, fluid from-time-to-time, they could indeed do as you suggest wickedj. Let the 10 cars that have to make the race, as in LMS, go today. That would kae 15 mins at the most. NASCAR surely would have that amount of time the next day?

Of course those would shout that it "wouldn't be fair." which I say is bunk.

Better yet let's go to the top 40 rule. Top 40 make it based on points then we have 2 provisionals slots for all regular teams to get int, but each team would be limited to 2 provisional uses per year and 3 champs provisional per prior champion. This would be an improvement to what we have now. In the old days I hated provisionals but tha's because they had so many and started at spots 36. So post 40 spots and give 2-3 teams a chance to get in on speed or provisionals. I know it isn't perfect but geeze it would be an improvement over what they have now. And let's not ECEN get into the Daytona 500 deal. What a joke that is. The old rules were fun, race your way in. Now the deal is so convoluted it makes the Twin 150s moot in a big way before they even put the first lap down.

October 10, 2008 at 8:51 AM 
Anonymous ACEfromTN said...

This week was really a joke. They canceled qualifying over an hour before it was supposed to start and there was nothing scheduled at the track the rest of the night.

Of course, the rain might not have let off soon enough then, but the first on track events were at 3:00PM today! Come on, is NASCAR trying to tell me that they can't do qualifying sometime between sunup and 3:00PM?

October 10, 2008 at 12:30 PM 

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