It would appear that NASCAR has listened to their drivers critiques about the dangers of the new qualifying system. After two weeks of the new format, drivers have been very open about how not being able to cool the engines is dangerous. Since the drivers were not allowed to pit to cool the cars down, they were instead driving around the bottom of the track at drastically reduced speeds. These “cool down” laps were dangerous in that the cars going qualifying speeds ran the risk of colliding with cars running lower speeds in an attempt to cool their engines.
NASCAR released a statement today outlining the modifications that they have made to allow cooling. They outlined exactly what drivers can do moving forward to cool their engines, as well as what they cannot do.
- One cool down unit connected through either the left side or right side hood flap/cowl flap is allowed to cool the engine.
- The hood must continue to remain closed.
- Plugging in the generator will not be allowed.
- Two crew members will be allowed over the wall to support the car and driver.
- No cool down laps will be permitted.
The most important thing that NASCAR has done is that it’s eliminated all cars from going slow on the track. With the elimination of the cool down laps, NASCAR is 100 percent addressing the danger that drivers spoke out about last week.
Props should be given to NASCAR in this situation. It’s too often that it takes something tragic or serious to happen before a league steps in and makes a change. NASCAR understood the potential danger involved here and acted accordingly. Vice President of Competition, Robert Pemberton shared his thoughts on why a change was made.
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.
When the cars take the track to qualify for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, all eyes are sure to be on the Penske drivers. Two weeks of the new qualifying format has produced two weeks of Penske taking the front row on the starting grid. It will be interesting to see if the streak will continue.