Proposed Qualifying Changes Could Scramble the Grid

One thing I like about Jay Frye is that he always looks ahead. With the potential to have grids at some races of 28 cars, Frye has a proposal to modify the qualifying procedure on road and street courses. Like anything, there are pros and cons.

The new qualifying setup would have three qualifying groups instead of to. Each group with have at least nine cars. Each group I assume gets 10 minutes to post a fast lap. The top three advance.

The fourth session is the run for the pole, with nine cars contending for the op spot instead of a Fast Six.

.I think some change is necessary. Twelve to thirteen cars all trying to get a clean lap in at the same time has lead to penalties of impeding and blocking. We also saw cars crawling along the track in a big group waiting to get a gap. It looked silly and some cars ran out of time to get a good time recorded. Fewer cars on track will help that situation.

Having just three cars move on in each group could make for some interesting grids. Watching the driver in fourth place with just a couple of minutes left in the group will provide lots of drama. We have seen qualifying groups in the past in which all of the fastest cars and pole favorites are bunched together. Some favorite or two always misses the final round. Under the proposed system, there will be some very good car/driver combinations staring 10th or further back. Starting position is crucial at several tracks.

I would like to see a second round to get down to a Fast Six. I think that is the most fun round of the current qualifying. I think the concern is time, but the series allows 60-75 minutes for qualifying and the session usually finishes early. The Round of Nine could be cut to eight minutes instead of 10 with a five minute guarantee.

If the series does have a Fast Nine, will the final round still be six minute? Will the cars get an extra two minutes since there they are increasing this segment by 50%?

There are still several things to work out, but I think the proposed system has a lot of positives. Drivers and teams will adjust to whatever the rules are. I think they will be happy with less traffic in a qualifying session. A final decision will not come until next month.