BROOKLYN, Mich. – The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing crew members were in a bit of a frenzy during Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying at Michigan International Speedway: Crew chief Cole Pearn sprinted through the garage, as other crew members worked quickly on the No. 78 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., trying to get it on track in time for qualifying's opening round.
The No. 78 wasn't alone -- Multiple trips through inspection for several Sprint Cup teams caused a backup in the queue that caused NASCAR to push knockout qualifying from 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. ET. According to FS1, 12 cars had yet to clear inspection by the original start time.
Scott Miller, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition, told FS1 that he believed teams were having trouble with new aerodynamic rules that eliminate rear-axle offset or "skew." That tweak (along with other aero changes) were used in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race; they will also be in effect for this weekend's race and next month's 400-miler at Kentucky Speedway.
"With the new skew rules, some of the teams have struggled a little bit to pass those numbers," Miller said from outside the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hauler. "Fortunately, we're able to -- because of (FOX TV's) help -- delay qualifying just a little bit, and we've got five or six more cars left to get through here. I believe we're going to be fine. It's going to be a short delay and that's what's going on here."
Brad Keselowski, whose car was one of the 12 held up in the line, said "no one (could) pass laser" inspection, which caused the blockage. The No. 2 Ford cleared inspection just before 4:30 p.m. ET and was one of the final cars to hit the track in the opening round, along with Truex, Michael Annett and Greg Biffle.
The No. 78 rolled onto the grid last of the quartet, about seven minutes after qualifying had begun. Despite the close call, Truex ultimately qualified second and will start alongside pole-sitter Joey Logano in Sunday's Firekeepers Casino 400 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, Sirius XM).
That front-row spot didn't come without hustle from Pearn & Co.
"So many cars failed, you might be able to be OK on a normal week, but with so many cars failing we just had it backed up," Pearn said after qualifying. "We just had to get through the nose grid and pass LIS (Laser Inspection Station). But we got it – barely – but we got it."
Pearn echoed Keselowski's assessment of teams having issues with the LIS portion of inspection.
"It's just honestly kind of a screw-up on our end as far as the nose grid goes, but the LIS was reading a little funky, so I think that's why you saw so many cars fail," Pearn said. "It's almost like it got recalibrated or something, I'm not sure."
Truex remained calm throughout the brief period of chaos.
"I was fine," he said after qualifying. "I figured I knew we would get through eventually and we would get a lap in when it was ready. Just calm, cool, collected and wait my turn."
Zack Albert contributed to this report.