Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

NASCAR qualifying rules to revert

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Next season, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will shed its system of automatically allowing the top 35 in points into the field.

The old way of allowing the top 36 speeds and filling the rest with provisionals (plus a champion's provisional if needed) will return for 2013.

NASCAR met briefly with drivers Saturday morning at Talladega Superspeedway to discuss that as well as other new rules for next season.

Among the changes is the return of a random draw to set the qualifying order.

There will be no limit as to how many times a driver can use a qualifying provisional.

Ryan Newman believes the introduction of the new 2013 car will prevent an ongoing threat of top teams failing to qualify for a race.

"I don't think that it's going to be a big issue at all to start the season because with the new cars, I don't see us having an extra surplus of cars," he said. "I don't see 48 or 50 cars each and every week. I see 43, maybe 44, so I don't think it's going to be a deal-breaker at all."

But Martin Truex doesn't support the random draw, and prefers the current format of setting qualifying order based on practice speeds.

"I'm not a fan of it because I like being able to — if you have a fast car determine when you're going to go out if you can," Truex said.

There will also be a new testing policy. Teams can pick four tracks plus Daytona where they can test. Five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson praised the return of testing.

"Being at the track is good," he said. "We need to test at the racetracks we're racing on and on the right tire."

KAHNE ON TOP: Ride or race was the question title contenders considered as they prepared for today's race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The fourth Chase for the Championship event could shuffle the 12 title contenders, considering the restrictor plates that bunch the field and lead to pack racing — and big wrecks.

So after qualifying Saturday, when Kasey Kahne earned the pole for the first time at a plate track, drivers discussed how to attack the 500-mile event.

Kahne's lap of 191.455 mph bettered Ryan Newman's 191.145, putting two Chevrolets on the front row. Asked what it meant for his race, Kahne didn't offer many details.

"It means I'm going to start first, that's it," he said. "I'll try to lead that first lap. If we're up there, we'll try to stay up there."

Truex, who qualified ninth, said he'll race hard.

"I've been crashed here more than not, so we're going to go out there and race," he said. "…I've crashed here going for the lead and I've been crashed here trying to ride around in the back. So there's no safe place."

HANDLING FRUSTRATION: Denny Hamlin had the same fuel mileage problems as Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch last week at Dover.

Hamlin just didn't voice his frustration the same way as Busch, whose profane tirade against manufacturer Toyota over his team radio drew fire. Busch issued an apology four days later, and Hamlin took to Twitter in defense of some of the criticism being levied against his teammate.

"It would be very hard for anyone in here and any fan to go out there and lead three-quarters of the race and then something that you have no control over takes you out of it," Hamlin said at Talladega. "Because as a driver you did your job, but unfortunately something else kept you from winning so I understand those frustrations."

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