Careful approach mitigates ‘knockout’ format fears
There was frequent speculation Friday morning among Sprint Cup drivers that this “knockout” qualifying format in a superspeedway setting could lead to a bunch of wrecks.
That didn’t prove to be the case, perhaps in part because teams were so wary of that happening. It seemed teams were quick to get cars off the track – and out of the draft that makes restrictor-plate races unique – as soon as they had a fast enough lap to advance to the next of three rounds.
Starting position isn’t a particularly big deal at Talladega, where so much of racing is about attrition rather than track position. Drivers said the only real advantage in starting up front is a more preferable pit stall.
Logano failed to reach the final round of qualifying Saturday, the first time that has happened since NASCAR adopted this system at the start of this season.
Kahne’s car was found to fall under the weight minimum. The issue for Truex was height of the front of his car.
• The forecast for Sunday is zero chance of rain. Assuming that’s accurate, it would be a welcome change from the spring race here a year ago, when the entire weekend was backed up.
• Interesting decision by Sam Hornish Jr. to run a seven-race Nationwide stint with Joe Gibbs Racing, filling in when Kyle Busch has a scheduling conflict. He apparently chose quality equipment over a more regular gig.
• Jimmie Johnson has begun getting questions about how such a winner has yet to win this season with the points system now emphasizing wins over consistency. Doesn’t worry Johnson, who made it clear Friday he’s confident he’ll be in the Chase.
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