Skip to content

After safety concerns, NASCAR announces changes to qualifying

Mar 11, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT

nascarlogo

After multiple drivers and teams expressed safety concerns in recent weeks, NASCAR has announced several changes effective immediately for all elements of its knockout qualifying format for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

Teams will now be allowed to cool down their cars’ engines on pit road with the use of one cooling unit through either the left or right-side hood/cowl flap. The hood of the car must remain closed and the generator must not be plugged in.

Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall to support the car and driver. Finally, cool-down laps on the track will no longer be permitted.

“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said in a statement. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.

“We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward, we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”

The new qualifying format has garnered positive reaction, but drivers immediately noted the safety issue of having to run slow cool-down laps on the track after the format’s debut at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this month.

NASCAR initially resisted the allowance of cooling units in the pits because it didn’t want teams to open the hoods of the cars – which, in their eyes, would allow crew members to make illegal adjustments if they were inclined to do so.

However, the issue took on a bigger presence last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. After qualifying, Michael Waltrip Racing driver Brian Vickers said that having to run cool-down laps while other competitors were running at speed was “the most dangerous thing [he’s] ever done in racing.”

LVMS afforded Vickers and other drivers a proper apron to run the slow laps, but the room to do that at the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway – site of this weekend’s Nationwide and Cup events – is basically next to none.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Team Penske Ford Fusion, said earlier today that the lack of real estate at Bristol could pose as a “potential issue” during qualifying.

But in a conference call this afternoon with various crew chiefs, the sanctioning body finally allowed the teams to use the cooling units. However, that apparently wasn’t their first plan.

An Associated Press report from Jenna Fryer relays word from multiple participants on the call that NASCAR initially said teams could use external fans in the pits. However, the idea was met with almost across-the-board objection.

Another potentially iffy aspect of knockout qualifying was not addressed today by NASCAR: The cars having to back out of their spot on pit road at the start of each round. Fryer reports that rule will remain intact at Bristol, because of procedures already in place at the track.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH: Indy Lights races from Barber at midnight ET

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Watch the pair of Indy Lights races from Barber at midnight ET.

  2. Relief, gratitude define the day where Newgarden finally gets first win (VIDEO)

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Newgarden rolls out the thank you mat after scoring his elusive first IndyCar victory.

  3. Ryan Hunter-Reay disappointed, but relieved after Barber performance

    Apr 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay not satisfied with first top-five finish of 2015.

  4. Montoya, Castroneves still 1-2 in IndyCar points; Newgarden jumps to P4

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:42 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Penske pair still 1-2 after tough afternoon in Barber.

  5. Graham Rahal can’t close deal in runner-up finish at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:10 PM EDT

    GrahamBarberWin

    Graham Rahal comes up short in best performance in a year.

  6. Josef Newgarden scores his first IndyCar win at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 5:37 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Newgarden scores first career win at Barber.

  7. IndyCar: Graham Rahal is halfway leader at Barber

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:43 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    We’re halfway at Barber, with Graham Rahal the leader at Lap 45 and pit stops underway.

  8. Button records new personal best in London Marathon

    Apr 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Virgin Money London Marathon Getty Images

    Button joined by wife Jessica and Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon at the event on Sunday.

  9. WRC: Kris Meeke claims maiden win at Rally Argentina

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Meeke 264 Getty Images

    Meeke becomes the first British driver to win in the WRC in 13 years.

  10. SPOILER: Indy Lights race two from Barber Motorsports Park

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Results from the Indy Lights’ series second race at Barber Motorsports Park

  11. WATCH LIVE: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    BarberRibbon15 AP

    Watch the fourth round of the IndyCar season, from Barber Motorsports Park, at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  12. WSR: Vaxiviere claims last gasp win at Motorland Aragon

    Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    Lotus youngster beats Nyck de Vries in a truncated second race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season.

  13. What to watch for: IndyCar at Barber (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra)

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    BarberW2W4 AP

    What to watch for ahead of Round 4 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

  14. MotoGP: Marquez fractures finger in dirt bike accident

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Marc Marquez AP

    Marquez undergoes minor surgery on his left hand, and is in doubt for next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

  15. Michael Schumacher’s son Mick victorious on debut ADAC F4 weekend

    Apr 26, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    ADAC Formula 4 Oschersleben - Race Day 2 Getty Images

    Mick wins the third and final race of the first ADAC F4 weekend of the year at Oschersleben in Germany.

  16. FIA delegates safe and accounted for after Nepal earthquake

    Apr 26, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Formula E Championship In Buenos Aires - Jean Todt Press Conference Getty Images

    45 delegates from the FIA had been attending the first Asia-Pacific Sport Regional Congress in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday.

  17. Power relieved, thankful to return to front row at Barber

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:11 PM EDT

    PowerBarber2 AP

    Second in qualifying a good day at the office for Will Power, as he’s in search of his first win of the year.

  18. Davey Hamilton to make driving comeback in next week’s IndyCar oval test

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:42 PM EDT

    DaveyKingdom Getty Images

    Davey Hamilton will have a one-off day back behind the wheel of a current day IndyCar, filling in for Townsend Bell at next week’s IndyCar open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.