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NASCAR Cup: single-car qualifying may return

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas.

By AMANDA VINCENT

NASCAR may return to single-car qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at tracks where drafting may come into play during qualifying.

“We’re going to look at every option, including the possibility of going to single-car qualifying,”NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The reason we haven’t is that’s on the teams. That’s parts and pieces. We’ve tried to be as efficient as possible trying this method of qualifying. But we’re definitely going to look at it and see what we can do. We’ve got a couple of weeks to do that. We’ll make adjustments as needed.”

The 2019 Cup Series aerodynamic rules package, which includes variations of a larger front splitter, larger rear spoiler, aero ducts and a tapered spacer, has resulted in drafting during qualifying at tracks 1.5 and larger. The drafting has resulted in a waiting game among teams/drivers, as nobody wants to go out on the race track first, putting themselves at a disadvantage over cars/drivers going out behind them and drafting with them.

The waiting game resulted in none of the 12 drivers advancing to the final round of the three-round qualifying session at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for last month’s Auto Club 400.

NASCAR instituted new rules prior to last weekend’s qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, stating that any car not making a qualifying lap during any round to which it advanced would have its previous round lap(s) disallowed and, therefore, start the corresponding race in the back. The sanctioning body also stated that drivers/cars that blocked another driver’s attempt to go out onto the track to make a lap also would start the corresponding race in the back.

All drivers managed to make qualifying laps during rounds in which they were supposed to at Texas, with the exception of Alex Bowman, who wrecked in the first round of qualifying after making a lap fast enough to qualify for the second round. But Clint Bowyer was adamant that Ryan Newman blocked him from getting off pit road to make a qualifying attempt at one point in the opening round.

“This is stupid,” Bowyer said. “Did that look like clogging the middle to you? I damn-near had to back up to go. That’s not clogging the middle, apparently. We talked about clogging our conversation before qualifying. It says really clearly in lawyers’ terms how you can’t clog the middle, and I be damned, the first time it clogs the middle, they don’t call it. Discretionary.”

Newman was not penalized for blocking in qualifying. Instead, he was penalized later in the weekend for his car twice failing pre-race inspection.

A change in qualifying may not be announced by NASCAR for a couple of weeks, as the Cup Series races at the short tracks of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Richmond (Va.) Raceway the next two weekends. The draft does not come into play at those tracks.

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Posted by on April 2, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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