Shorter weekends next season

NASCAR is looking for ways to tighten up weekend activities at the racetracks and adopt a shorter weekend schedule for 2005. It is expected that at 23 events next season, NASCAR will attempt to practice Friday, qualify Saturday and race ...

NASCAR is looking for ways to tighten up weekend activities at the racetracks and adopt a shorter weekend schedule for 2005. It is expected that at 23 events next season, NASCAR will attempt to practice Friday, qualify Saturday and race Sunday.

Under the new guidelines, NEXTEL Cup series cars would be impounded after qualifying on Saturday, preventing teams from working on their cars. This would force teams to either run the race on qualifying set-up or take their time trial lap with their race set-up, hopefully saving everyone money in the long run.

To help facilitate the process NASCAR will guarantee the top 35 in points at the end of the season a spot in the race. The remaining eight spots would be snatched by qualifying times since the use of provisional starting spots will most likely fall by the wayside starting next season.

"Well, we're all going to have some changes to deal with it looks like," said Sterling Marlin. "They're cutting the spoilers off and changing the tires again, and from what I'm hearing we're going to qualify the cars and impound them in 23 races.

"At Daytona, I've heard we're going to qualify on Sunday and won't get back on the track until Wednesday. At Bristol, we'll qualify on Friday, have Happy Hour on Friday night and come back Sunday morning and race. Everybody will be in the same boat. I think they're going to lock in the top 35 in points, so it'll be interesting to see how it all works out."

Word is that NASCAR wants to schedule Friday afternoon practices allowing Thursdays, the traditional NASCAR travel day, to serve as an extra day off for crews already overstressed by long hours on the road and in the shop.

It would also ease the lengthy hours scheduled for the garage on race weekend, where sometimes the garage opens at 6:00 am and doesn't close until 6:00 pm enabling shorter hours and more rested personnel.

Many tracks have balked at the amended schedule, as taking away Friday qualifying, will cut into their ticket sales. It is not expected for the new format to be used at any of the tracks owned by Speedway Motorsports.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Sterling Marlin