More details on NASCAR’s new qualifying format…

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We now have the main details involving NASCAR’s new knockout format for qualifying in all three of its national series, so this post will serve to list some of the additional details that will go along with it:

After each qualifying round, the top speeds will be reset and drivers will have to post their best laps again in the next round.

Teams will be allowed to make a limited number of adjustments during breaks between qualifying rounds such as wedge, track bar, tire pressure, tape, and plugging in oil. However, repairs will not be allowed on pit road (teams can’t jack up the car or raise its hood, either).

If a car re-enters the garage, it will be removed from qualifying and will have its starting position set according to its best lap speed from its last round completed.

Cars will be lined up for Round 1 of qualifying on pit road according to a random draw.

Cars do not have to run for the entire duration of a qualifying round, but must complete at least one lap to set a qualifying time.

Once the clock runs out on a qualifying round, cars are allowed to pass the start/finish line one time.

The new format will not impact NASCAR’s current policy for provisionals, which will be assigned at the end of Round 1 of qualifying.

Should two or more cars have the same lap speed, their starting positions will be determined by owners’ points. If owners’ points fail to break the tie, the driver that set the duplicate time first will start in front of the other. (A note: Owners’ points from last season will be used to break ties until after the third race of this season).

The selection of pit stalls after qualifying will remain the same; the top qualifier gets first choice, the second-fastest qualifier gets the second choice, and so on.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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