New Talladega qualifying format earns mixed reactions from drivers

3 Comments

Instead of triggering more excitement with a quicker pace through the rounds, the new qualifying format at Talladega Superspeedway yielded one of the most bizarre NASCAR qualifying sessions in a long time.

Needless to say, opinions were mixed following today’s events at Talladega Superspeedway – which ended with Brian Vickers on the pole, five Chasers in the last four rows of the grid, and a stunning DNQ for Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Before Vickers entered the ‘Dega media center, second-place qualifier Jimmie Johnson and third-place qualifier A.J. Allmendinger tried to be diplomatic but didn’t know what to make of it all.

“It’s strange,” Allmendinger said. “It’s a weird format. I’m not sure if it’s any better than single-car qualifying. It’s hard to say, but it is what it is.”

Johnson himself said the new format – which begins with two groups of drivers each running for five minutes and having the Top 24 speeds across both groups advance to the second round – was “bizarre and different.”

However, the two also agreed in that if it was more exciting for the fans, then it’s worth the gamble.

“What the competitors want versus everyone else is usually different, as we all know,” Johnson said. “The best way to go about from a competition side is single-car runs, fastest car gets the pole and on down through the field.

“It’s that fine balance we’re trying to find in today’s world – balancing eyeballs watching versus what competition is in the garage area and what the garage wants to see.”

Both also empathized with those that did not make the show. Stenhouse and Justin Allgaier appeared to be joined in the DNQ club by Reed Sorenson, but a rules infraction on Joe Nemechek’s car caused his time to be disallowed – and enabled Sorenson to make the field in 36th (the last position that can be made on speed).

“I was shocked – I asked on the radio, ‘Are those the three guys going home?’,” said Allmendinger. “So, it’s a little bit shocking, but it’s not always fair.”

“If I was them, I’d be upset,” Johnson added. “But we all knew what the rules were coming into it and what could happen.”

That hasn’t stopped multiple other drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Stenhouse’s girlfriend/rival Danica Patrick, from sounding off on social media this evening about the format:

Final Rolex 24 results by class

IMSA
Leave a comment

For the third time in four years, Wayne Taylor Racing is victorious in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Kamui Kobayashi drove the team’s No. 10 Cadillac for the race’s final three hours, and won by more than a minute over the No. 77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis. Loic Duvall finished third in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac.

Joining Kobayashi in victory lane were co-drivers, Regner van der Zande, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe.

Here’s a look at some of the winners in the other classes:

LMP2: 

The No. 81 Dragonspeed ORECA crossed the finish line first in the five-car LMP2 class, with Ben Hanley winning by two laps over the second-place Mathiasen Motorsports entry driven by Gabriel Abury. Nic Minassian finished third in the No. 18 Era Motorsport entry.

Dragonspeed’s winning team also included co-drivers Colin Braun, Harrison Newey and Henrik Hedman.

GTLM:

For the second consecutive year, BMW RLL took the GLTM class honors, as Jesse Krohn took the checkered flag in the team’s No. 24 BMW M8 GTE. Krohn was joined by co-drivers John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert.

Porsche Teammates Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy finished second and third, respectfully.

GTD:

The Andrea Caldarelli took the class honors in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing, finishing ahead of Marco Mapelli and Mirko Bortolotti.

Caldarelli’s co-drivers included Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis and Madison Snow.

Click here for full race results by class

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter