Kenseth, Larson discuss Talladega qualifying changes
September 04, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
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RICHMOND, Va. – NASCAR's qualifying format, re-tooled for the 2014 season, will see yet another change when Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams arrive for next month's race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
Officials announced Thursday that the opening round of qualifying for the Oct. 19 GEICO 500 will be trimmed from 25 minutes to 10 minutes, with two pre-determined groups (based on a random draw) given five minutes each to post an official qualifying lap.
Also, the second of the three sessions will be cut from 10 minutes to five minutes.
The third segment will remain five minutes in duration.
Currently, the changes are only in place for next month's race at Talladega.
"It was just such a mess," Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth said Thursday following a rain-shortened practice session for NASCAR's Nationwide Series. "I guess … Daytona was the last plate race, qualifying was just such a mess. People (were) going 100 mph, people going 200 mph, people jamming the brakes so the guy couldn't draft behind them and get a faster lap. It was probably not that great to watch and probably wasn't the safest situation to be in at the same time.
"I think by shortening the rounds, at least you can wait for a lap, but it probably takes a minute and a half to leave pit road and take the green (flag) so only being five minutes obviously it's going to alleviate a lot of that messing around and you're going to be out there trying to time your run and get your lap sooner. I think those are good changes."
The qualifying procedures put in place prior to the start of the 2014 season for tracks 1.25 miles in length or larger consist of three rounds, with the fastest 24 advancing from first to second round and the fastest 12 advancing to a third round.
For tracks less than 1.25-miles in length, two rounds of qualifying will continue to be used to determine the starting lineup.
The latest changes will also be in place for Truck Series qualifying at Talladega, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 17.
Kyle Larson, competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, said he would like to see the opening session shortened at all venues.
"I wish they would shorten the first round everywhere we run," the Chip Ganassi Racing driver said, "… especially in Nationwide the first round is way too long. I wish they'd shorten it everywhere.
"But yeah, it's definitely going to help at Talladega."
It will probably change how teams approach the opening session in some way, he said, "but you'll still have those small packs, small packs, small packs all trying to draft off each other and playing games.
"But you'll have to do it quicker."
It is the second time NASCAR has made changes to the qualifying process since its debut this season. In March, NASCAR began allowing the use of cool-down units during qualifying to help cool engines.