NASCAR has announced a change to next month’s schedule for Cup teams at Richmond Raceway. Inspection after qualifying will be moved from Friday night to Saturday, the day of the playoff race.
That means that the results from Friday’s qualifying session won’t be official until the next day.
After qualifying, all cars will be impounded and inspected the next day. Any car that fails inspection, which will serve as post-qualifying/prerace inspection, will have its qualifying time disallowed and start at the rear. There will be no pre-qualifying inspection.
NASCAR has inspected cars this way two other times this season, doing it at Pocono in July and Watkins Glen in August. At Pocono, 13 teams – including both cars on the front row – lost their starting spot after failing inspection the day after qualifying. At Watkins Glen, two cars failed inspection the day after qualifying and lost their starting spot.
NASCAR will have a similar schedule at three of the remaining 12 races: Indianapolis, Richmond and Martinsville.
At each of those events, Cup teams are on site two days. At Indianapolis, Cup qualifying is after the Xfinity race. At Richmond, Cup qualifying will be before the Xfinity race. At Martinsville, Cup qualifying will be after the Camping World Truck Series race.
By moving inspection to the next day (the day of the race), NASCAR can limit how long crews, including NASCAR officials, are at the track the day of qualifying. It takes around 2 hours, 30 minutes to inspect a Cup field. That can be longer if many cars fail and have to go through inspection more than once.
Such schedules also allow teams more time to work on their cars after final practice instead of having a limited amount of time before needing to get in line for inspection before qualifying.
Under NASCAR’s current playoff format winning the most races means a lot. It doesn’t win the championship, however, unless one of those victories comes in the season finale.
After the race in Miami, Kevin Harvick was not ready to call his season a failure. He won eight times during the year, tying him for the lead with Kyle Busch. But he was noticeably disappointed by coming up two positions short of claiming his second Cup. Harvick finished behind the 2018 champion Joey Logano and last year’s champion Martin Truex Jr.
“When I look at the 4 team through the whole weekend, they just seemed a little bit off,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “You look at qualifying, it didn’t go well. And then Saturday practice, they had a short run to start off the first practice because he wasn’t happy with the car. He wasn’t able to find the feel in the car. It just seemed like they were searching a little bit.”
MORE: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?
Harvick started the race strong, moving up to the lead on Lap 43 after starting 12th. He won the first stage. When the field pitted, the team did not make any significant changes to the car and Harvick was never quite the same.
Jeff Burton said that indicates the team failed to adjust to the changing characteristics of the track.
“In this kind of race when it all comes down to one race and you just get off that little bit at the wrong time, there’s no time to recover,” Burton said.
For more, watch the video above.
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Kyle Busch was one of the dominant drivers of the season with eight wins during the season to his credit and an incredible number of bonus points as the playoffs began. Two of his wins came during the playoffs, which led many to consider him one of the co-favorites to win the championship along with Kevin Harvick.
Instead, Busch finished a distant fourth in the race and the championship.
“There was nothing in the 18 car that was magical,” Steve Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “The 4 (of Harvick) when they dropped the green drove right to the front. … The 22 (of Joey Logano) at times, you said ‘he’s got great short run speed; if it comes down to a short run, he should be good.’ The 78 (of Martin Truex Jr.) had great long run speed. The 18 had none of the above.”
Busch was forced to gamble in the championship race to simply have a shot at winning. Staying out longer than most of the competition, he entered the pits on Lap 248 as the leader and rolled off pit road as the leader. When the green flag waved on Lap 253, he fell back quickly.
“(Busch) wasn’t better in any category,” Letarte added. “And that’s what really surprised me: A team that didn’t have a lot of weaknesses coming into the race really raced with nothing but weaknesses. Average pit crew, average speed, I think decent pit calls by Adam Stevens was the only thing that kept them in the picture for that last restart.”
Letarte went on to describe what he was watching in the final laps. While Logano drove to the front, Busch fell four seconds off the pace.
For more, watch the video above.
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Today’s NASCAR America breaks down Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick‘s championships plus the best moments from the 2018 season.
Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. They are joined by Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the Charlotte studio.
On today’s show:
- Coming off the heels of a memorable Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we’ll recap Sunday’s thrilling season finale that saw Joey Logano become the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. We’ll break down the key points of the race and get reaction from Logano and team owner Roger Penske.
- We’ll hear from Championship runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who finished second at Miami in his final start with Furniture Row Racing.
- Take a look at Tyler Reddick’s championship performance in Saturday’s Xfinity Series finale and what it means for his career going forward.
- And we’ll look back at some of the best moments from the 2018 NASCAR season.
If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.
Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.
Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.
NASCAR issued a $10,000 fine against Aric Almirola‘s crew chief, John Klausmeier, for an unsecured lug nut after Sunday’s Cup season finale.
Almirola finished ninth in the race.
No other penalties were announced.