Should NASCAR already make tweaks to new qualifying format?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) talks with NASCAR president Mike Helton in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage.

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So now we have our second attempt at knockout qualifying this week. Obviously, every track is going to be different when it comes to that. For instance, Las Vegas this weekend is our first attempt to do it at a mile-and-a-half track. The other difference from last week is we won’€™t have two qualifying sessions but three.

Now the other difference we will have from Phoenix is the tire wear. The tires at Las Vegas will give up a lot more than at Phoenix. Your good runs are probably going to happen early. If you can get a good run in early, it honestly is going to be hard to get your second run to be better, simply because of the way your tires will give up.

Looking back at Phoenix qualifying and after talking to NASCAR, it is the best I have felt about a qualifying session in a really long, long time. Now I’ve said this before, but the days of long, drawn-out qualifying sessions are over. This is a new era in qualifying for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race and I, for one, really like it.

Now I know there were some complaints by some of the drivers that NASCAR won’t allow the teams to use their cool-down machines. Actually, I like that element of it. I hope they don’€™t change that, because we all know that if you give the teams the chance to raise those hoods for the cool-down machines, well, you open the door for a lot of other things to happen.

Now, from the TV side where I am, if NASCAR had given them those cool-down machines, then we literally wouldn’t have had any cars on the track in the latter part of that first session. I don’t care how good a broadcaster you are, but if there aren’t cars on the track, there’€™s not a whole lot to talk about.

NASCAR said they are going to let this all ride for a few weeks and then if tweaks need to be made, then they will look at it down the line. I hope they don’t change a thing. This is definitely going to be different at Las Vegas. Remember, that third and final session is only five minutes and not 10 minutes. The reality is five minutes really isn’t that long a period of time.

So it’s something new and fresh for our sport, and I really like it. I just think it brings a new element that gets folks excited again about the qualifying procedure, and it’s been a really long time since we’ve had that.