Some of the NASCAR teams are wanting at least some on track time prior to the weekly races. They feel like they’re chasing their cars each week due to the lack of track activity.
“I really, personally would have liked to have seen even 30 minutes (of practice) to get us acclimated to some braking points,” Denny Hamlin said. “I definitely understand the owner’s side of it and NASCAR’s side of it where you don’t want to have to prepare backup cars just in case. Heck, maybe even – I’m just politicking through (the media) – why not have the implication of knowing that this 30-minute practice session, if you wreck, you finish last. Just like you would in the race. If someone is going to wreck in that 30-minute practice session, they were more than likely going to wreck in the race anyway.
“I think that we can take it easy, we can go slow and make sure we just get acclimated before we go green. You don’t want to put on a bad race that’s just filled with cautions. I worry that could be the case.”
Despite that, NASCAR isn’t budging from their plans. The scheduled currently in place takes us through the regular season. On Monday, Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR said that through the 25th race of the season at Dover, we won’t practice or qualify.
“What’s beyond that, I think is still a little bit up in the air,” Miller said for Daytona and the playoffs. “To have practice and qualifying, we have to have more people on the rosters. There are a lot more things that need to go on in the garage, so very much more difficult to execute all the safety protocols with the COVID-19.”
The reason we have one day shows without any preliminary action is due to the nature of racing during a pandemic. If you have even a short practice session and or qualifying, then you need backup cars just in case. If you need backup cars, you need more personnel at the track and working closer together in the shops too.
So, they’ve just eliminated the need for it and honestly, it’s working.
We’ve had no practice since March 6. We’ve only qualified once since March 7. Now, Miller does say changes may be made for the playoffs in terms of a draw since we currently use Groups in owners points – 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36. There would be 16 playoff drivers. So maybe you go 1-16, 17-36?
Still, the biggest obstacle now is going to be the Daytona Road course next month since none of these teams have ever raced there before. They’d have to race with no practice before.
“I voted to practice at Daytona,” Clint Bowyer said on Monday. “I guess I’m probably unique in at least I have some laps on the racetrack, it was a long time ago, I don’t even remember those laps but I ran the Rolex 24 (in 2013) and have some experience on that track. But that being said, not in our cars and anything else.
“I think it’s a tall order to show up there and run a track that we’ve never been on before with the tire combination with the package, with the aero, horsepower, we’ve never seen before, it’s going to be a crapshoot for everybody.
“I think there’s definitely drivers and teams that have experience running that Rolex that will be ahead of the pack, ahead of the curve for sure. These are challenging times. To ask the teams to come up with a unique car and again for a backup car and everything else. It’s saving them money (not to do so). I get it. Everything is tight right now. You’ve got to give and take in this scenario, and I think that’s definitely a give for the Daytona race.”