NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will impound Cup cars immediately after qualifying Saturday night and not inspect them until Sunday morning at Watkins Glen International.
What it means is that the starting lineup won’t be official until a few hours before the start of Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
NASCAR is making the change to avoid keeping crews at the track later into the night Saturday. The Cup garage opens that day at 7 a.m. ET. Qualifying is set for 6:35 p.m. ET and inspection likely would not be finished until after 9:30 p.m. ET
What NASCAR will do is open the garage at 8 a.m. ET Sunday (instead of 11 a.m. ET as previously scheduled) and conduct inspection. It likely will take about 2 1/2 hours.
Any car that fails inspection will have its qualifying time disallowed and start at the rear. Failure a second time will lead to a crew member ejection (likely the car chief) and a third failure will lead to a 10-point penalty. Last weekend at Pocono, 13 Cup cars failed inspection at least once and were forced to start at the rear. The cars of Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne, each failed three times. NASCAR docked those teams 10 driver and car owner points.
Pit stalls for the race will be picked by crew chiefs at approximately 11 a.m. ET Sunday.