Some have misplaced blame for inspection issue
Nine cars failed to get through pre-qualifying inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Judging by social media posts, comments, etc., fans are disappointed and understandably so. After all, Friday wasn’t the first time in this young season that several cars haven’t gotten through inspection in time. But I think some of them have misplaced the blame.
I completely understanding fans, especially those in attendance at TMS, being disappointed that they may not have seen their favorite drivers make qualifying attempts. And I’m assuming many fans didn’t see their favorite driver make at least one lap during qualifying, considering 14-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among those failing to get on track during Friday’s session. So were the top-two drivers in the points standings — Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott — and Kyle Busch.
But is NASCAR to blame? I don’t think so. If anyone is going to be mad and anybody for what happened Friday, I think fingers need to be pointed at the race teams. After all, if they had presented legal cars for their first trip through the qualifying stations, they would have gotten on-track during qualifying. It’s not NASCAR’s fault that these cars didn’t come to inspection within spec.
I’ve read fan social media posts and comments suggesting that NASCAR delay qualifying when so many cars have trouble getting through inspection. But wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of NASCAR cracking down with its modified inspection process for this season? NASCAR’s goal with its modified procedure is to get teams to present legal cars for inspection to begin with. If teams know that qualifying will be delayed if they have to make pass after pass through stations to clear inspection, won’t they continue to abuse the system? Maybe if teams miss qualifying a few times, they’ll get their you-know-what together.
I’m also read posts and comments blaming the qualifying format. Really?!? I read at least one fan’s suggestion that, if NASCAR still utilized the single-car qualifying format, teams would have time to get through inspection and go out for qualifying. Maybe they would; maybe they wouldn’t. Wouldn’t it depend on when they were supposed to go out. Whether qualifying order was set by practice speeds, points or blind draw, if I remember correctly, they were put on five minute clocks if they couldn’t go out when their turn rolled around. What if said team was early in the qualifying order. That five minutes could easily run out before getting through inspection. Now, see the flaw in that theory?
I don’t get all this blaming NASCAR for teams not getting their cars legal to begin with so they can breeze through inspection. I get that teams push the envelope; that’s expected of them. But it’s not NASCAR’s problem when the teams have a hard time keeping that envelope-pushing within spec. Personally, I believe blaming NASCAR for what happened Friday as ridiculous at blaming NASCAR that time a lot of cars didn’t post a lap time during qualifying at Talladega, because some drivers waiting too long to go out.