Drivers blast NASCAR’s use of group qualifying for Daytona 500


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Competitors had plenty to say Sunday about using group qualifying for the first time for the Daytona 500. Most of their comments weren’t positive.

Drivers and owners raised questions and concerns about group qualifying at restrictor-plate events last season but the chorus grew louder at Daytona International Speedway after a session that featured a crash, confusion and, in the words of many, chaos.

Here’s what they said:

Ryan Newman: “The frustrating part is dealing with this whole system which makes no sense whatsoever. It’s hard to stand behind NASCAR when everybody I talk to up and down pit road doesn’t understand why we’re doing this. Maybe I need to be sat down and educated a little bit.’’

Denny Hamlin: “Mayhem. There’s no other word to describe it.’’

Clint Bowyer: “There’s no reason to be out here. These guys have spent six months working on these cars, busting their butts on these cars. … It’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out in the middle of this crap for nothing. We used to come down here and worry about who would set on the front pole in the biggest race of the year. Now all we do is come down here and worry about how a start‑and‑park like this out of desperation is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500.”

Jeff Gordon: “When it turns out like the way it did for me, you like it. When it turns out like the way it did for Bowyer, you hate it.’’

Kyle Larson: “I think they need to go back to single-car qualifying. I think that’s about it for superspeedways anyway because this is pathetic. They just tore up a ton of cars in the first qualifying (session). I don’t see how it’s exciting. I don’t think the drivers think it’s exciting. This race has always been made off of how hard your team works to get the pole. I think they should go back to single car qualifying at superspeedways.”

David Gilliland: “It’s definitely chaotic. It’s just too circumstantial on a deal like this. To me, it’s not very good. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done. It needs to be fine-tuned a little bit.”

Kurt Busch: “We’re a lot of smart people here. There’s drivers, owners, NASCAR.  We got to find a better system. Too much hard work goes into these cars, then you have this roulette wheel for qualifying. It doesn’t seem the proper system.”

Brad Keselowski: “I think it’s about exactly what we expected.’’

David Ragan: “This session is real gimmicky and it all depends on who you get paired up with and a lot of it is luck and chance. That is just the way it is though. There are some really good cars that didn’t have good speed, and some really bad cars that did have good speed just because of situations. I would be very frustrated if this was it. I am not a fan of this format but it is what it is.”

Denny Hamlin: “There’s going to be a lot of unfavorable talk about it for sure. It can get dangerous when different cars are on different agendas and speeds. We’re either going to have to get better and smarter or it will have to change to make it a little bit safer. Other than that, we all knew for months that this was going to be the case. You tried to do the best you could.”

Richard Childress: “It has to have some adjustments. Definitely got to be adjusted. You can’t be wrecking people. You can’t depend on making the race the way we’re doing it here. We’ll let them figure it out.’’

AJ Allmendinger: “Honestly, I could have cared less how I qualified. I just didn’t want to wreck. So, I just kind of went along with the plan and that was it. Didn’t care.’’

Austin Dillon: “It ain’t right. I think we should go back to single-car (qualifying) myself. That is all I can say.”

Martin Truex Jr.: “My thoughts are they need to do something different. I don’t know, it’s just doesn’t seem like it’s a good show. It’s not fun. It’s kind of chaos. I don’t know, seeing cars get tore up and other stuff. I’m not a fan of it, but hey it is what it is.’’

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.