When NASCAR announced earlier last week the new wrinkle to Sprint All Star qualifying – that there would be no pit road speed limit in the mandatory four tire pit stop which every driver must do in a three lap qualifying session – many people were skeptical. Their main concern was of course safety. After all, there is a pit road speed limit for a reason. However, after the qualifying session took place on Friday, people are singing a different tune.
Regarding the issue of safety, NASCAR never took it out of its focus. Yes, cars could power through pit road at any speed the driver wished, but pit road was empty until the car came to a complete stop. Not until the car stopped and the NASCAR officials gave the signal could the pit crew service the car.
Safety, while it was thought to be jeopardy, was never at all. In fact, the only change this new procedure brought on was a positive one. The change? More excitement.
It has been no secret that in the recent years many fans have questioned the current, traditional two lap qualifying procedure that dominates most every weekend. Perhaps the worst of the scrutiny is around superspeedway qualifying, specifically Talladega, where qualifying can be the most boring part of the season. No one shed a tear when Talladega qualifying was rained out this April, that’s for sure.
However, this weekend in Charlotte, fans got a taste of something new. The drivers and teams found themselves out of their comfort zone. Drivers were on the edge entering pit road – some even went over it. Crews attempted nontraditional pit stops and even spotters played a hand in the session, but no one was put in danger. Qualifying was simply fun to watch.
Now does this mean NASCAR should implement this procedure for every race? No, of course not, but it does show that NASCAR is willing to look at nontraditional ideas to spice the sport up. NASCAR showed this earlier in the season when it announced that qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series at road courses would be similar to how the lineup is determined in the Nationwide Series at road course events – group qualifying. While there are some aspects of this sport that do not need to be spiced up, qualifying may be one of those that do – even if it is just a few times a year.
Regardless of the opinions on this qualifying procedure from Charlotte, there is no arguing that it was interesting to watch.