Qualifying tweaks among changes to Eldora race
June 03, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
RELATED: NASCAR announces format enhancements for Eldora
NASCAR announced four enhancements Tuesday morning to the annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on dirt at Eldora Speedway.
The second running of the 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic, scheduled July 23, will carry over many of the same format elements rooted in dirt-track tradition and will remain a 150-lap event, but with a handful of tweaks from last season's inaugural race.
-- Qualifying races will be lengthened from 8 to 10 laps.
-- Pit stops during the two competition cautions that divide the race into three segments will be optional instead of mandatory as they were in 2013.
-- The order for single-truck, two-lap Keystone Light Pole Qualifying will be determined by random draw instead of practice speeds.
-- The top five team owners who fail to qualify for the mainevent through the last-chance qualifying race will be awarded owner points.
Instead of making wholesale changes to the format after a largely successful first event, officials opted for largely minor enhancements to NASCAR's only national series race at a dirt track.
"I think we've added to the excitement level by lengthening the qualifying races a couple laps," said NASCAR Camping World Truck Series managing director Chad Little. "Come race time, to add a little procedural strategy to the races, the teams are not required to pit during the competition breaks, which will occur on Lap 60 and Lap 110. They can use their own team strategy and decide whether they want to come in for tires or fuel. If they choose not to, they'll be placed ahead of those trucks that pit."
While NASCAR brought change to qualifying procedures in all three national series with the advent of group qualifying, officials opted against incorporating that format into Eldora's tricky half-mile. The only switch for the 2014 race is to line up the qualifying order by the draw of a pill.
"It'll bring a little bit more randomness to the qualifying order versus trying to determine when the track is best and when to go out and lay down a fast or slow lap," Little said. "Hopefully ... that'll take away some strategy and make it more fair for all the competitors."
Little also said NASCAR officials listened to feedback from truck series owners to make the final adjustment, awarding owner points to teams that fail to advance to the main event through qualifying races.
"Last year, because it's a 30-truck field for the feature, we didn't award any points past 30th," Little said. "Some of the feedback we received from the ownership group was, 'if we go to all the races, at every other event, we receive points back to 36th, so if we're unfortunate enough not to make the race, we feel like we should be awarded points from 31st to 36th like the other events.' We agreed. The last-chance race allows us to do that, so we're going to award points for 31st through 36th for those owners who aren't fortunate enough to make the feature."