On Tuesday, NASCAR announced rules changes to its new "knockout" qualifying procedure for its three national series, including the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. No long will teams be allowed to make slow laps on the track to cool down engines during qualifying. Instead, teams will be allowed to use engine coolers on pit road.
The changes came after a conference call with Sprint Cup Series crew chief and after several drivers at NASCAR's top level publicly voiced concerns about safety with the new qualifying format.
Previously, teams had not been allowed to use cool-down units on pit road during qualifying. As a result, several teams resorted to sending their drivers out to make slow laps to get air through the grilles of their cars, while other cars on the track at full speed making qualifying attempts.
"It's not safe," Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman said. "It's not safe."
The rules modifications will take effect for the Nationwide Series, along with the Sprint Cup Series, this weekend at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. Qualifying at Bristol for the Nationwide Series will be at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, with the race to follow at 2 p.m. ET the same day. The Truck Series does not return to action until March 29 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
"The qualifying is new to all of us, and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects," NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton said. "Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective, starting with our two national series events at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved in the sport. Moving forward, we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds."