What Really Grinds My Gears: NASCAR's Impound Rule

John DoeCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2008

Back in 2005, NASCAR implemented a plan where cars would be impounded after qualifying at over half the races. 
This pushed qualifying back to Saturday on many occasions, and was met with general displeasure from teams. 
The next year, the sanctioning body cut back the number of impound races to five; both Richmond and Talladega events, and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July.
These impound races remain intact until today, and I have a difficult time understanding the logic behind this move.

NASCAR's initial motive in 2005 was to cut costs.  At the time, and to this day, I fail to see how this works. 

Teams are still at the tracks for three days, still run the same number of laps on the track, and travel the same distance to get there. 

The only places it would seem to be a success would be the restrictor plate races, where there are massive changes between the qualifying and race setup.

When NASCAR realized their mistake, they kept three of the four restrictor plate events as impound races (with the Daytona 500 an obvious exception), and due to the two-day nature of its race weekends, kept Richmond as an impound track too. 

This opens a whole other can of worms.  With the top 35 rule, teams that have to time their way in are still utilizing the faster qualifying setups to make the event, at the possible expense of an engine or other mechanical failure early in the race.

The No. 21 team has gone to such lengths that at each restrictor plate race this year, the team has been back in the garage within two laps changing over to a race setup.

Their qualifying setup is so extreme that in that short period of time, they could suffer a mechanical failure. The other go-or-go-homers haven't gone to those lengths, but give it time.

Who cares about winning?  As long as we make the race to get our sponsors 10 seconds of air time because we stink and take home a sizable paycheck, it's all good!  What a mockery of the sport (it's almost as bad as starting and parking if you ask me). 

On top of that, the teams outside of the front 35 often find themselves in the rare position of being able to see the pace car at the green flag due to strong qualifying efforts thanks to utilizing a qualifying setup.

Good for them, because they need all the exposure possible, but one of these days, it's going to be bad (VERY bad) for the rest of the field.

One of them is going to blow a tire, an engine, or start a wreck due to lack of the experience amongst some of this bunch (Carpentier and Hornish, I'm talking to you), and take out 25 cars. 

I wouldn't want to have the burden of explaining to several Chase drivers why you ended their day on lap 8. 

NASCAR needs to put this antiquated policy into the history books.  Drivers don't like it.  As a fan, I don't like having to wait until Saturday for pole qualifying (watching live timing on NASCAR.com at work on Friday afternoons is often a guilty, inexcusable pleasure of mine).
And how does this save money for the little guys?  Three teams are going to miss this weekend's race, and at least one of them will probably be a low-budget outfit.
Being at the track an extra day just means one extra night in a hotel, one extra night of meals, and one extra day of finding out it wasn't worth even showing up. 
These teams are already going to extraordinary lengths to change from a qualifying-suitable to a race-suitable setup once the green flag falls anyways.

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