Victory Lap: Failure By NASCAR Or Bowyer?


The Victory Lap takes the important points of each week and offers analysis on how it all happened in addition to predictions on the week to come.

As NASCAR fans we’re always quick to criticize the sport that we love. Many have even called the racing action this past weekend at Daytona a failure. Between all the wrecks in the Sprint Unlimited and the product of group qualifying on Sunday I think we can all agree it won’t be a weekend that we’ll soon forget.

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First, let’s look at the Sprint Unlimited. For the second year in a row the race was made up of many wrecks leaving only a fraction of the field running at the finish. Not a huge surprise but many fans are still upset. The Sprint Unlimited isn’t just a restrictor-plate racing but a restrictor-plate race that means nothing unless you win. Given that formula I would say fans got the desired result with drivers going for it all to win. I would venture to say that we’ll see the same kind of racing with 20 laps remaining in the Daytona 500. Yes, it’s for the biggest prize of the year but at the end of the day there is a race to be won and drivers will always do whatever it takes to win.

Qualifying on Sunday caused the biggest uproar among NASCAR Nation. A wreck involving Clint Bowyer and Reed Sorenson caused complaints from many drivers and fans about how dangerous and “stupid” group qualifying is at restrictor-plate tracks. That being said, if NASCAR uses a group qualifying format at all other tracks they should also use it at restrictor-plate tracks. Ultimately what happened on Sunday falls squarely on the shoulders of the drivers and teams.

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Of all the events during Speedweeks, pole qualifying means the least. Especially for drivers like Bowyer that are likely to make the race on Sunday without a pole qualifying run. Everything can change so much at Daytona in one lap that starting position frankly means nothing. Not only that but on Thursday drivers have the opportunity to improve their starting positions or race their way in during the Budweiser Duels.

It just doesn’t make sense for a driver like Clint Bowyer to push that hard for the pole position and put his car in jeopardy for the rest of the week. Some drivers get it. Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. willingly led the pack for their groups on Sunday and stayed out of trouble. While it didn’t give them a chance at the pole it did allow them to keep their cars in one piece for the rest of the week and avoid the chaos that ensued. Bowyer had the same option. He needed to take what he could with the situation he was given. Just stay in line and the crisis is avoided.

Does group qualifying need to be tweaked at Daytona and Talladega? Absolutely. NASCAR needs to find a way to stop drivers from playing the clock by sitting on pit road for half the session. Is the solution smaller groups, a five lap average, or heat races? I don’t think it matters because lets face it. No matter what changes NASCAR makes someone is going to be upset with the result and that’s exactly what we saw this past weekend. Could cars be torn up? Yes, it’s racing and that’s what happens!

Aaron Hale is a Staff Writer for on the FanSided Network. Follow us on Twitter @Beyond_The_Flag and “Like” us on Facebook.