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« If they can’t even get Bristol right… | Main | Kentucky better get it right this time »

Qualifying rainouts: There has to be a better way

By admin | March 27, 2009

By Richard Allen

 

I’ve said this before but I’m going to say it again anyway. There has to be a better way of setting the field and determining who races and who doesn’t when it rains out qualifying on Friday.

The lineup has been set for the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 in Martinsville based on car owner points. Rain set in during the afternoon on Friday in southern Virginia causing NASCAR to cancel qualifying.

Last year this happened ten times. That means there were ten occasions in 2008 in which some teams pulled all the way to places like California and New Hampshire only to be sent home without even a chance to put their car in the show.

And more, pit selection will be based on points rather than qualifying times. Pit selection often times determines track position and these days with the difficulty of passing that can decide the winner of a race.

This will be the first race in which the 2009 owner points will be used rather than those of 2008. It may be a good thing for some teams that they ran well enough to make the Top 35 last week in Bristol.

Unfortunately for four teams, they will not have the chance to compete. Drivers Sterling Marlin, Tony Raines, Dennis Setzer and Derrick Cope did not make the race due to the situations of their car owners.

NASCAR has two practices scheduled on Saturday for the Sprint Cup cars. That second practice could easily be converted into a qualifying session. If it continued to rain then they could go ahead and use the points to set the field. But at least, four teams would not have hauled their cars to the track without every possible effort having been made to give them a chance to race on Sunday.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

7 Responses to “Qualifying rainouts: There has to be a better way”

  1. Kim Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 8:21 am

    AMEN!

    And I agree with even though my driver starts 6th without qualifying.

    One thing about Nascar, and the thing that takes a lot of the excitement out of the sport, is that the best get even more breaks (like automatic pole positions and premier pit selections with qualifying rain outs). So, teams like Hendrick, already ahead and already with more $$ than anyone else, get prime real estate on a continual basis.

    That’s not a knock on the Hendrick drivers, btw. It just means that those who have always get a little more than those who do not and could use a chance to improve their situation.

    I felt that way last year when my driver(s) did not benefit from point standings and I still feel now that they are benefiting.

  2. Ken O Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 9:29 am

    They used to have qualifying if the first try was rained out. What was wrong with that? It looks like the present system is to sgive more to the haves and less to the have nots. The cards seem to be stacked more and more against the independent or smaller teams.

  3. yankeegranny Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    If nothing else, they need to give the go or go homers a chance to qualify. They know the weather was going to be bad, so why didn’t they bump up the times? What would it have hurt to to show it on tape….Oh I forgot, that would make sense and we wouldn’t want NASCAR to do something that makes sense, would we? I really felt bad for Stirling Marlin: he had a very good car and had to go home.

  4. Sam Anderson Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve been saying for years they need to come up with a better way. Regardless of scheduling, if they can’t get it in they should flip the field. That would give the smaller independent teams a better chance at a good finish. And the best cars will still make it to the front. It would also make the race much more exciting.

  5. Jimbo Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Rich, Since you feel strongly about how the field is set when qualifying is cancelled, I’m wondering why you don’t have some ideas on how it could be done differently. My thought is that I don’t see a better way that would be fair to everybody. Being higher up in the points standings should be worth something in these situations, so drawing numbers out of a hat would not be fair for all the teams that have “earned” their places in the points standings. Everyone who shows up to race knows how the system works. I really think this whole issue is more about having something else to complain about.

  6. Richard Allen Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I usually do not respond to the comments as I like for readers to have this as their space since I have already had my say in the column above. However, Jimbo says I should have come up with a solution. I did that in the last paragraph.

    NASCAR has two practices scheduled on Saturday for the Sprint Cup cars. That second practice could easily be converted into a qualifying session. If it continued to rain then they could go ahead and use the points to set the field. But at least, four teams would not have hauled their cars to the track without every possible effort having been made to give them a chance to race on Sunday.

  7. Jimbo Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Rich, I noted your comment about changing a practice session into a qualifying session. However, that is not really a “solution” to the quest for “a better way”, it just postpones the decision if it continues to rain. In the case at Martinsville, that is exactly what happened. Because we want our sport to be a big time event with all the associated media coverage (TV, radio and print), NASCAR has to work within time schedules and constraints. How much effort is “every possible effort”. Should the teams be forced to sit on pit road waiting to see if a weather window opens? How long should they wait? Should they try on Sunday morning right up to race time? The teams that get sent home when rain wipes out qualifying put themselves in that position and they came to the track knowing that this very thing can happen.