NASCAR is doing a great job of listening to the teams as they as a collective group figures out this new Next Gen race car together. Last Saturday in Fontana was the first time that the new practice/qualifying format was shown.
On most tracks this season, teams will be split into two groups based on odd/even finishing order from the previous weeks race. Each group would be given just 15-minutes each of practice. Then, they’d go right into qualifying to set the field for the next days’ race.
That occurred in Fontana.
Due to all the spins we saw on the 2-mile track, the teams were wanting a little bit more time to make some small adjustments and in case they need to, fix a car from a spin. So, instead of two separate groups, NASCAR will allow just 1 35-minute practice session on Saturday from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
That session takes place on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS2.
That practice will lead directly into single-car, single-lap qualifying that will still be split up into two groups. The top five drivers from each group will then advance to the second round of qualifying to fight for the pole with another single-car, single-lap run.
Also on Wednesday, NASCAR said that they’ll still make it mandatory that if a car spins and it can be repaired but still stuck on track, the driver will have to remain in the car as it’s towed back to the pits for repairs.
Austin Dillon said on the media call on Wednesday that by doing so could lead to some more troubles because drivers at times would purposely spin in order to avoid a crash. Why run into a crashing race car in front when they could spin out of harms way, come down pit road for repairs and continue on.
Now, they don’t necessarily have that luxury and may be forced to try to drive through it and risk a bigger crash as a result.
That’s due to this new car being low to the ground and the new 18-inch tire not having any room for an inner liner. In turn, when a tire goes down, the car is basically sitting on the ground and gets stuck.
Joey Logano told NASCAR Radio this week an option in his mind would be to have a truck designated to go out and change the tires on track.
“We should have a AAA truck that goes out on the racetrack when cars spin out and have flat tires and they change your tires right there on the racetrack, so you can get to pit road, instead of trying to hook it to a tow truck and dragging everything off the bottom of the car or pushing me,” the Team Penske driver said.
He has first hand knowledge of this too. It happened to him in the season opening Daytona 500.
“Daytona was horrible. It was horrible for me,” he continued. “This is how I went crazy. I spun out missing this crash. Tires are flat. I didn’t hit anything. I’m OK. I’m stuck, and then the tow truck comes behind me. He starts pushing me up the racetrack I go, and I get stuck again. Now, the ambulance is behind me and I’m stuck. The ambulance won’t move. No one knows what is going on. I back into the ambulance. Now I’m stuck again.
“Here comes the tow truck again. Tow truck is trying to push me, and now I’m just going to turn through the grass because I can’t go two-and-a-half miles on these wear blocks. The car is not even moving. I start going through the grass and everything is OK. Here comes Kurt Busch down pit road and the tow truck stops so it doesn’t put me into him, which was great.
“Now the tow truck can’t push the car anymore because he doesn’t have any momentum. He’s spinning his tires behind me. He backs up, and now he starts ramming me. It just kept getting worse. Now I’m three laps down because I had a flat tire. So yes, I went bonkers for a little bit.”
Also on Wednesday, Front Row Motorsports announced that they’re appealing their penalty that was levied against them on Tuesday.
NASCAR officials issued a four-race suspension Tuesday to Front Row Motorsports crew chief Seth Barbour and crew members Jourdan Osinskie (jack man) and Tanner Andrews (front changer) after the No. 38 Ford lost a wheel during last weekend’s Cup Series event at Auto Club Speedway.
Todd Gilliland drove the No. 38 to a 20th-place finish in Sunday’s Wise Power 400, but his car lost a wheel during a caution period for the Stage 1 break. The Bob Jenkins-owned team was cited under Sections 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR Rule Book, which covers “loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle.”