Once upon a time NASCAR had a two day qualifying format. The first 25 drivers were locked in on day one and the rest of the field was set on day two.What made it interesting was that occasionally the 26th fastest driver had the best time of the weekend and in two instances set the track record.
Alas, times have changed and we now have the single day format. From a cost perspective, I completely understand it. From a logic perspective—well therein lie some problems.
Finding time to squeeze 43 plus cars on a track during an already packed weekend is difficult. It understandably is more so when inclement weather alters the weekend schedule.
Thus, we find ourselves in situations much like this past week, setting the field via owner's points. In reality there is nothing wrong, at least in my mind, of using that method to set the field.
Some have argued that they should use practice speeds, but then what do you do if all the practices are rained out as well?
I offer a different solution, one that I find difficult to believe that NASCAR brass has not considered before.
Give the Go Or Go Home (GOGH) cars their own qualifying session if the main qualifying session is rained out. These are the teams that are most often hurt by nature's fury and often they can pay a dire price because of it.
Look at all of the teams this weekend who arrived to Daytona in the hopes of having a chance to make the richest purse of the year, only to have rain showers wash those dreams away.
So why not find time to squeeze 15 cars, at most, on the track during a weekend? In all honesty you cannot tell me this would be an impossible task. Run it in the early morning, a la second round qualifying style, if need be.
At least they would have a chance to earn a spot in the field and perhaps recoup some of the money they spent to make it to the track.
And even simplier idea is to have the GOGH cars qualify first in a session. That way, if qualifying is rained out part way through, those drivers would have times to fall back on.
NASCAR appears to be in a mood to change some of their illogical choices of the past few years, so why not take a look at this? Often they speak of helping the 'little teams' of the sport, and a change like this would further that notion.
Honestly, that's what they should have done in the first place when they started separate sessions. It is my hope that NASCAR will consider this idea and hopefully implement it at some point in the near future.
Because in reality, qualifying really isn't rocket science.