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Blog Entry

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Posted on: February 16, 2011 8:18 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2011 8:47 pm
 


Posted By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - You need a slide rule and a calculator to figure out who makes the Daytona 500 these days. 

What used to be a relatively simple formula has ben convoluted by the Top 35 rule and NASCAR's new math has hit its most popular driver pretty hard this "Speedweeks."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole for Sunday's 53rd running of the Daytona 500 when he topped last Sunday's qualifying session. That run as well as the second fastest speed of time trials turned in by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon locked the duo into the front row for "The Great American Race."

But not so fast.

Earnhardt crashed in Wednesday's first Sprint Cup Series practice session and was forced to pull out a back-up car for the 500. By NASCAR rules that means he'll have to start from the rear of the field. 

Like everyone else who took a qualifying lap on Sunday, Earnhardt will take part in Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona twin 150 mile qualifying races. But unlike everyone else, Earnhardt's finish in his qualifying race will have no bearing on where he takes the green flag for the 500.

Basically because of the unique rules that govern the sport's biggest race, the top qualifiers are locked into the starting line-up field for better or for worse.

So no matter where Earnhardt finishes Thursday he'll be forced to start "The Great American race" from the 43rd position.

The quirk exposes just how antiquated the qualifying procedure is for the Daytona 500. The procedures are completely different than how NASCAR determines the starting line-up for the other 35 points races of the regular season, which is a bit like Major League Baseball using batting practice home runs to give a team a run in the first inning of the World Series.

Why not just use the regular qualifying plan of the fastest drivers plus the Top 35 to set the field for the most prestigious event on the calendar?

Since the Top 35 rule had all but sucked the drama out of Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying races the mystique of using time trials as the first wave and then the finishing positions in the twin 150s to determine the starting positions in the 500 are gone.

Basically winning the pole like Earnhardt did is detrimental since the front row qualifiers are locked into a set of rules that isn't in play for the balance of the field.

"It is what it is," said Earnhardt's crew chief Steve Letarte . "We feel good about things even though we lost our primary car in that crash. In turh starting at the back of the field in the Daytona 500 with all the drafting that goes on and the length of the race isn;t as much of a hinderance as it would be if you had to start from the back at some of the other races on the schedule."

Letarte's optimistic attitude isn't surprising but it doesn't erase the oddness that surrounds this year's Daytona 500 before the green flag has even flown on the race.

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Category: Auto Racing
Comments

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 8:39 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

It is simple.  The car qualifies, not the driver.  If Junior couldn't race because he was sick, the substitute driver would be in the 88 on the pole.

I'm not sure how this applies.  But you are incorrect as well.  If the driver who qualifies does not start in the car, it goes to the back.  It's happened a few times when a regular fails to qualify while a team who makes a rare start makes the show.  The team that missed will pay to put their DNQ driver in the other car and it has to start in the back.  Just happened in the Truck race tonight, Cole Whitt failed to qualify but they put him in the 93 truck and he had to start from the rear. 

You may be thinking of when they would set the line up in the event of a rainout.  That's when they would use car owner points so it wouldn't matter who the driver is, they just line up in order of how many points the car has scored.



Since: Mar 5, 2010
Posted on: February 18, 2011 2:13 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

If Jeff Gordon starts in the front row, he will not lead the first lap across the finish line after lap 1.  His car is absolultey terrible on starts/restarts.  He had the same problem last year.  This race makes it even worse, becuase withouth a two car hookp, the cars run 15-20 mph slower.

Good luck Nascar.  This SUCKS



Since: Oct 15, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:11 am
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

It is simple.  The car qualifies, not the driver.  If Junior couldn't race because he was sick, the substitute driver would be in the 88 on the pole.



Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 9:49 am
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Pretty sure.  But I'm thinking Gordon will be in trouble either way if the pairings for Sunday's race are the same as they were Thursday.   If Jeff starts on the inside, he'll have Kurt Busch & Regan Smith behind, who worked together all day Thursday followed by Harvick & Kenseth.  If Jeff takes the outside, he'll have Burton and Bowyer behind, who will obviously team up, followed by Waltrip & Kyle Busch in Toyotas.  Jeff might be in trouble either way, as far as staying up front early. 



Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 9:10 am
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Bored...are you sure? All I keep reading is that the inside line will slide up with Gordon remaining on the high side. That would be cool if he gets the choice. I am also reading that the high line seems to get going faster but I guess we'll see.



Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2011 10:44 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Jeff Gordon got screwed too. He was the other front row driver and didnt get a chance to slide over into Junior's spot. Instead, he has to remain on the outside pole while Kurt Busch, basically the 3rd place guy...gets to take the inside pole. WTF?

Actually, Gordon will be fine.  If Jeff wants to start on the inside he will.  Dale Jr is still the pole sitter and with him being teammates with Gordon, he will choose to line up on the outside pole which will put Gordon on the inside.  Dale Jr doesn't get moved to the back until after the parade laps so he can still pick whichever line he wants to start in, and thus Gordon will be in the other lane. 



Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: February 17, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Jeff Gordon got screwed too. He was the other front row driver and didnt get a chance to slide over into Junior's spot. Instead, he has to remain on the outside pole while Kurt Busch, basically the 3rd place guy...gets to take the inside pole. WTF?



Since: May 17, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Let me bottom line this for you. THE WAY IT SHOULD BE...
If you have the fastest time when qualifying, then you take the pole. Period.
Junior got into a wreck that is questionably NOT his fault AND HE STARTS IN THE BACK????????

Yeah, yeah...not the same car you qualified with. I get it.

Its still a stupid rule.



Since: May 17, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Just because you follow the rule, it doesn't make it any less stupid, stupid. Do you follow?
Threw you there, didn't I?



Since: Aug 20, 2008
Posted on: February 17, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Quirky Daytona rules hurt Junior

Last time I checked if you have to go to a backup car or make a engine change (something along those lines). You had to drop to the rear of the feild. Thats been the rule for as long as I can remember and I've followed the sport for over 10 years now.


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