Possible F1 style qualifying for NASCAR
Anyone who has watched NASCAR qualifying knows that it can seem like a long drawn out affair; one car at a time, one or two timed laps.
At tracks like Talladega and Daytona, qualifying can actually become something of a snooze fest. The most exciting qualifying of the year usually comes during Speedweeks at Daytona with the duel qualifying races, which come after fans are forced to sit through a traditional qualifying session a few days before.
One idea being to generate excitement is to look at the way Formula One qualifies. Instead of a single car, single run F1 qualifying uses a timed ‘knockout’ system. Here’s how the FIA, Formula One’s sanctioning body list the qualifying procedure.
Q1: All 20 cars may run laps at any time during the first 20 minutes of the hour. At the end of the first 20 minutes, the five slowest cars drop out and fill the final five grid places.
Q2: After a seven-minute break, the times are reset and the 15 remaining cars then run in a 15-minute session - again they may complete as many laps as they want at any time during that period. At the end of the 15 minutes, the five slowest cars drop out and fill places 11 to 15 on the grid.
Q3: After an eight-minute break, the times are reset and a final 10-minute session will feature a shootout between the remaining 10 cars to decide pole position and the starting order for the top 10 grid places. Again, these cars may run as many laps as they wish.
If a driver is deemed by the stewards to have stopped unnecessarily on the circuit or impeded another driver during qualifying, his times may be cancelled.
There are a few nuances in F1. The cars that qualify inside the top ten must start the race with the fuel load they qualify with and there are only 20 cars (perhaps more in 2010), so obviously there would need to be changes.
For NASCAR, however the positives for this style of qualifying are many. This would be a ‘race within a race’, a reason to actually watch qualifying. For track operators it could mean additional revenue since they could sell tickets for qualifying and no doubt fans would buy them.
But what about the drivers, those who would have to qualify under a ‘knockout ‘style procedure, what do they think?
During a break in Goodyear tire testing at Daytona Tuesday, drivers Jamie McMurray, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series most recent winner and 2004 champion Kurt Busch talked about the F1 style of qualifying in NASCAR.
“I think they would have to do it a little bit different,” said McMurrary who admits he watches Formula One. “I wish our qualifying would be like 30 minutes long or an hour long, kind of like the way we practice, where maybe you don’t do a draw, because the draw at a lot of places really hurts you. I think it would be interesting to have an hour of a kind of free for all. It would be a little different at Daytona and Talladega because of the drafting, but at some of the other tracks... I also enjoy it the way they do it in the Nationwide cars on road courses, I’ve been a part for that and I like that, It’s something different.”
In the Nationwide Series on road courses, five cars are sent out once for a timed period. Kurt Busch has never tried the Nationwide series style of road course qualifying, but said the idea of Formula One style qualifying shouldn’t be dismissed.
“It would be something to discuss,” Busch said. “Its exciting to watch one car at a time and see how fast they’re going to trip that clock, but at the same time if 10 guys are out there trying to crunch in a lap at the last minute that could be exciting as well.” examiner.com