After two consecutive weekends of Cup teams qualifying shortly before they raced, are fans likely to see more of that next year?
Cup teams qualified on Saturday after the Xfinity race last month at Indianapolis. Cup teams qualified a few hours before they raced the past two weekends at Pocono and Watkins Glen.
The experiment is part of NASCAR shortening the weekend schedule. NASCAR has added a fan fest to compensate for one less day of track activity for the Cup Series. That could become more common next year.
“I think the key for us is to really create some fun activities for the fans with more driver access on Fridays if we can,’’ Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday.
“Tend to like the qualifying, if we’re going to move it, on Saturday. I think that is a really good experience for fans in terms of having that support race and being able to see the Monster Energy Series drivers qualify. So we’ll probably continue to look that way. The biggest thing for us is to creating those unique, fun fan experiences around the drivers and open up the access as much as we can.’’
Cup teams will qualify and race on the same day once more this year — at Martinsville in the playoffs. This weekend, Cup teams will qualify on Friday at Michigan and race on Sunday, the typical weekend schedule.
O’Donnell told “The Morning Drive” that there have been some questions raised by competitors about qualifying and racing on the same day.
“I think some of the feedback from some folks in the garage is that still is really tough to qualify, get ready for the race,’’ he said. “Folks like it, but I also think Saturday also gives you the opportunity maybe to plan a little bit more on race prep that you need for the car. It will be a balance as we look at both of those to see what is the best solution going forward for the teams.’’
Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday that he’s glad to go back to a schedule where qualifying and the race won’t be on the same day this weekend.
Gordon noted the “anxiety” in how much preparation has to be done to the backup car in case a driver crashes in qualifying.
“If you were to wreck in qualifying, you had two hours to get a car back together ready to race,’’ he said.