The Cup Series isn’t qualifying on Friday at Pocono like it traditionally does.
There will be no Saturday qualifying — like there was at Indianapolis last week — either.
Yes, that means qualifying is on Sunday, just hours before the race.
Sunday’s same-day qualifying and race at Pocono is the first of two-straight weeks of the novel concept in NASCAR’s top series. While the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series qualify on the same day many times a year, NASCAR has typically held qualifying a day or two before the race at its top level.
The move to take qualifying away from Friday gives teams more time at home during the summer slog of the NASCAR schedule. There are 16 races left in the season with just one more off weekend (Aug. 25-26) through the end of November. While it may be hard to work up sympathy for millionaire drivers and owners, there are plenty of people in NASCAR who travel every weekend and don’t get to stay in buses in the coach lot at tracks.
It also doesn’t deny Pocono of on-track activity from Friday’s schedule. The Truck Series practices for its race Saturday and ARCA will race in the afternoon. It reasons there aren’t too many hardcore race fans who would show up on a Friday to watch Cup practice and qualifying who wouldn’t still show up.
Perhaps the biggest issue of qualifying on the same day is the potential frenzy of a team forced to ready a backup car because of a qualifying crash. But given Truck and Xfinity Series teams face the possible problem multiple times a year and handle it well, it shouldn’t be a hurdle for Cup Series teams.
It may be a practice more common in the future at various tracks. The Cup Series isn’t chopping any of its 36 races from the schedule, and tracks don’t make much money on the first day of three-day weekends anyway. Don’t be surprised if there are five or more weekends like this in 2018 and beyond. And don’t panic when you can’t find results from qualifying on this website until Sunday morning.
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