NASCAR makes changes to knockout qualifying procedure

NASCAR has made changes to the knockout qualifying procedure to put an end to cool down laps and increase safety on the track.

Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

Just days after many drivers expressed concerns over NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying procedure, the sanctioning body announced it has made a number of changes with an eye toward safety.

Starting this weekend in Bristol Motor Speedway, teams will be allowed one cool down unit which will be connected through the hood flap on either the left or right side of the car. Teams will not be allowed to open the hood of the car, nor will they be allowed to plug in a generator. There will be two crew members allowed over the wall to "support the car and driver."

"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," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition and racing development. "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 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 with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds."

During this past weekend’s qualifying session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, many drivers were outspoken about the dangers of slow cars riding around to cool their engines in preparation for another qualifying run.

"The biggest thing that disturbed me about the whole deal are the policies on qualifying," Brian Vickers said following his qualifying run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "We don’t have impact data on 170-180 mph differential impacts. If I hit someone with those speed discrepancies, that’s going to be really bad for everyone. Unquestionably, it’s more exciting for the fans. It’s fun, interesting, but there are some things that have to take place. That’s the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in a race car."

Thanks to the moves made by NASCAR on Tuesday, Vickers’ concern – and that of many fellow drivers – will be a thing of the past. 

For the latest on the changes to the knockout-qualifying format, watch Wednesday’€™s edition of NASCAR Race Hub at noon ET on FOX Sports 1.