NASCAR changes qualifying procedures at Sonoma, Watkins Glen

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If you’re a race fan, one of the most tedious if not boring aspects of watching qualifying on a road course is you may see a car come by every couple of minutes — and that’s it.

Well, that won’t be the case at Sonoma Raceway this weekend and the August road course race at New York’s Watkins Glen International.

NASCAR announced Friday that single-car qualifying will be suspended at both tracks this season and that group qualifying will become the norm.

The way the new qualifying process works is like this, according to a NASCAR statement:

“Cars will be assigned to one of five or six groups based on practice speeds, slowest to fastest. Within those groups, cars will be separated fastest to slowest and released at intervals. Each group will have a window in which cards can complete their qualifying, each likely receiving three laps at full speed. A car’s fastest lap will count and the field will be set based upon overall qualifying speeds. The process has been used previously for NASCAR Nationwide Series road course qualifications.”

It’s uncertain whether the new process will be permanent from this point going forward, or whether it’s a one-season experiment.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.