Kenseth: Qualifying should be more “patient” with new rules

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With new rules in effect that ban cool-down laps during qualifying, Matt Kenseth is looking forward to a less stressful knockout session this afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Earlier this week, NASCAR enacted changes to their new qualifying format that also allowed teams to use cool-down units on pit road. The changes came in the nick of time, as the tight half-mile of Bristol Motor Speedway would’ve afforded little room for drivers to run slow laps in order to cool their engines.

“…I think it’s going to look more like a normal qualifying session except there will be more cars out there,” Kenseth said this morning before practice according to USA Today’s Nate Ryan.

“Everybody should be able to be more patient and pick and choose your time when you want to get rolling. Be able to wait for a clean lap and go.”

Kenseth, who won last August over Kasey Kahne at Bristol, was one of multiple drivers to tag the wall in what was a treacherous practice session on the high-banked oval.

However, he did not have to go to a backup car like four others had to: Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle.

This morning, he noted the importance of keeping on top of the track conditions at this challenging course in addition to working in confined quarters.

“It definitely changes a lot during the weekend,” Kenseth added per Ryan. “I think the track is going to be drastically different here in a little while, and it probably will again in qualifying later this afternoon, and it will be in the race again. You always have to pay attention to that.”

The former Cup champion has been relatively strong in recent years at Bristol with a win, four Top-5s and seven Top-10s in his last nine visits to Thunder Valley.

He’s also led in each of his last five Bristol races for a total of 414 laps – the most of any driver in that span.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).