News & Media

Some 2013 qualifying could move to Fridays

September 28, 2012, Holly Cain, Special to NASCAR.COM,

DOVER, Del. -- As it does annually, NASCAR is contemplating competition changes that could include moving some Sprint Cup Series qualifying sessions to Friday afternoons in 2013 and tweaking the current testing policy.

The possible changes were a hot topic in the Dover International Speedway garage area, where drivers and teams gave their input about more race weekend schedules that would feature Friday qualifying and a practice session on Saturday.

By completing qualifying on Fridays, teams will have more time to work on the race setup on Saturdays. It also gives race promoters a Saturday ticket that will feature a couple hours of significant Cup practice and more time in the garage for driver and fan interaction instead of more than a couple of qualifying laps.

NASCAR is expected to formally announce several competition changes for the 2013 season sometime in October.

The idea of modifying some race weekend schedules was met with mixed reactions.

"It doesn't matter,'' reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart said Friday. "Whatever the schedule is, it is. It doesn't really matter to us either way. No matter what it is, it's going to be the same for everybody, and that is all that really matters."

It is not uncommon for NASCAR to consider competition changes with the new season approaching.

"We continually visit with our race teams, owners, drivers and tracks to get feedback on virtually every aspect of our sport," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "As we approach the stretch run of this season, those conversations continue in earnest as we look ahead to what works best in the garage area for next season and beyond."

NASCAR tried the new Friday qualifying schedule at a couple venues already this year.

The schedule at the four restrictor-plate "impound races" at Daytona and Talladega would not be affected by the schedule change.

"I like consistency and knowing what to expect for the competitors as well as the viewers and the media to kind of set that schedule and that tone for the weekend,'' four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said. "I also like, as a competitor, practicing that day and that last run you make on the track being your qualifying mock-up run and then the next time you are on the track you are going to qualifying. So that is what we have done in the past that has worked well for us.

"The Saturday qualifying has not worked as well for me, so I am certainly happy to see it happen on Friday."