The first-ever knockout qualifying session to set the front row for the Daytona 500 is in the books, and while everyone was able to make laps before time ran out, unlike in the qualifying session for the final restrictor plate race of the 2014 season at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Sunday’s qualifying at Daytona didn’t exactly go off without a hitch.
Reed Sorenson, driving for a small and underfunded team, did what he felt he needed to do in an attempt to make the Daytona 500 — blocking. Instead, he wrecked, taking Clint Bowyer, Bobby Labonte and J.J. Yeley along with him. Oh, and Denny Hamlin’s car also sustained slight residual damage from the incident.
As a result, Sorenson wound up with a car too wrecked to run in the Budweiser Duel on Thursday, and he told the media that his team didn’t have a backup car in Daytona. It’s unknown at this point whether or not he’ll have another car at DIS come Thursday.
Labonte and Yeley’s cars were also to damaged to continue, and prior to the wreck, they both posted lap times fast enough to move them on to the second round. Needless to say, neither returned to the track for round two.
Although Sorenson’s blocking tactics set off the chain reaction, and Sorenson later took full responsibility for the incident, Bowyer came to his defense and said that the wreck wasn’t Sorenson’s fault; it was the fault of NASCAR’s system that Bowyer referred to as “idiotic.”
“It’s idiotic to be out here doing this anyway,” Bowyer said. “These guys (crew members) have been working for six months on these cars.”
Tony Stewart made his opinion of group qualifying at Daytona known via Twitter.
“Today use to be about showcasing the hard work from the teams over the winter. Now it a complete embarrassment for our series. #NASCAR” — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart)
Kenny Wallace, working on the FOX broadcast of the session tweeted:
“I will say ‘This is eXciting’ maybe crazy or silly or stupid BUT it is a SHOW” — Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace)
That prompted Stewart to send the following tweet:
“@Kenny_Wallace that’s not a show, it’s a joke and you know it” — Tony Stewart
A tweet from Bob Margolis then came, saying:
“@TonyStewart @KevinHarvick @Kenny_Wallace Might your opinion be different if your cars were in the final group” — Bob Margolis (@BobMargolis)
That tweet also brought a replay from Stewart:
“@BobMargolis @KevinHarvick @Kenny_Wallace absolutely not. It’s a great format for everywhere but Daytona and Talladega” — Tony Stewart
Here’s my opinion. I didn’t tweet it, so I’m posting it here. I think Sunday’s qualifying session was some kind of clusterf**k.
Gordon didn’t think Sunday’s qualifying session was so bad, but really, isn’t that easy to say when your sitting on the pole?
“The driver finally plays a role,” Gordon said, pointing out that qualifying at Daytona used to be more about the cars than the drivers.
Okay, I’ll give him that, but should so many other drivers also be playing such a big role in qualifying? Sunday, the following could’ve also been said:
“Everyone around me played a huge role. I’m lucky none of the other guys in the same group I was in made a mistake.”
Of course, as Margolis touched on in his tweet, I guess the opposite could be said for Stewart, suggesting that his opinion could’ve been based on the fact that none of his cars advanced to the third round. But Stewart’s opinion seemed to fall more in line with the majority of the other drivers. You know, the drivers who are racing these cars week in and week out between February and November.
No, I don’t always agree with the drivers, but in this case, I wholeheartedly do. Besides, at least when it comes to the Daytona 500, there’s something for the folks who want to see several cars on the track at once when it comes to qualifying; it’s called the Budweiser Duel.
I’m all for group or knockout qualifying pretty much everywhere else other than Daytona and Talladega. Single-car runs may not be all that exciting to watch, but for Daytona and Talladega, I think they’re probably the best option. That’s just four races out of 36, so would it be that big of a deal to have single-car-run qualifying for those four races? I don’t think so.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
December 5, 2016Comments