NASCAR fans left frustrated with late decision at North Wilkesboro

NASCAR's decision to cancel All-Star Open qualifying at North Wilkesboro Speedway after 18 of 20 drivers had made qualifying attempts was met with criticism.
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Erik Jones, Legacy Motor Club, North Wilkesboro Speedway, NASCAR All-Star Race
Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Erik Jones, Legacy Motor Club, North Wilkesboro Speedway, NASCAR All-Star Race / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

As Hendrick Motorsports' Alex Bowman and Joe Gibbs Racing's Ty Gibbs attempted to wrap up Friday night's qualifying session for the NASCAR All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro Speedway, rain began to fall, and their qualifying attempts were significantly impacted.

Bowman qualified 13th with his lap time around the four-turn, 0.625-mile (1.006-kilometer) North Wilkesboro, North Carolina oval, while Gibbs qualified 20th (last).

Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon was poised to take the pole position. Instead, he is set to start the race in 15th place, as NASCAR opted to discount all previous qualifying laps since Bowman and Gibbs did not get to run in the same (or even similar) conditions.

Gibbs is set to start on pole, alongside Bowman in second place, as the point standings were used to determine the full starting lineup.

The full starting lineup can be found here.

NASCAR decision frustrates fans at North Wilkesboro

As Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass confirmed, it was well within NASCAR's right to do what they did, as this has long been the rule.

Bowman and Gibbs did turn qualifying laps, so they weren't completely excluded from the session, but it was obvious that it was raining. Quite frankly, the decision to send out the No. 48 Chevrolet and the No. 54 Toyota at all was questionable.

Still, there did seem to be a much better option than simply discarding the other 18 of 20 qualifying attempts that had already made, which completely undid the solid efforts of drivers such as Dillon and Rick Ware Racing's Justin Haley, who would have shared the front row.

Here is what the starting lineup would have looked like.

1st - Austin Dillon, No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

2nd - Justin Haley, No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Ford

3rd - Ryan Preece, No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

4th - Austin Cindric, No. 2 Team Penske Ford

5th - Kaz Grala, No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford

6th - Bubba Wallace, No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota

7th - Todd Gilliland, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford

8th - Chase Briscoe, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

9th - Harrison Burton, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford

10th - Carson Hocevar, No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet

11th - Zane Smith, No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet

12th - Josh Berry, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

13th - Alex Bowman, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

14th - Corey LaJoie, No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet

15th - Erik Jones, No. 43 Legacy Motor Club Toyota

16th - John Hunter Nemechek, No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Toyota

17th - Daniel Hemric, No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

18th - Noah Gragson, No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

19th - Timmy Hill, No. 66 MBM Motorsports Ford

20th - Ty Gibbs, No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Given the fact that NASCAR pushed back the entire qualifying session for the All-Star Race heat races, which was scheduled to take place after the qualifying session for the All-Star Open, how hard would it have been to simply include Bowman and Gibbs at the front of that 17-driver group?

Those results could have then been used to solidify the lineup for the All-Star Open.

Sure, the conditions still would have been different from what the other 18 drivers had during the original All-Star Open qualifying session, but that is to be expected in any qualifying session. At least it wouldn't be raining, which was the whole reason why Friday's session needed to be brought to a halt.

The All-Star Race heat race qualifying session is now scheduled to take place at 11:40 a.m. ET on Saturday. The two 60-lap heat races are set to take place on 5:20 p.m. ET this evening to determine the full starting lineup for the 200-lap event.

The top two drivers in tomorrow's 100-lap All-Star Open are set to join the All-Star Race field in 18th and 19th place, and the winner of the NASCAR Fan Vote (specifically, the top vote-getter among drivers not already locked in who still have raceable cars) is set to start in 20th.

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The All-Star Open is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 from North Wilkesboro Speedway beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 19, and the All-Star Race itself is set to follow at 8:00 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV today and don't miss any of the action!