In an effort to help remedy an apparent disparity, NASCAR has provided a tire option to the 24 teams that participated in Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying on Friday.
Because of NASCAR’s rule that teams must begin the race on the same tires with which they qualified, those 13 teams were slated to begin Sunday’s race on new tires, while those teams that participated in qualifying would start on used tires.
On an abrasive track like Auto Club Speedway, that would give the cars that had not participated in qualifying a distinct advantage to begin the race.
Several drivers who participated in qualifying said afterward it seemed as if they were being “penalized” for passing inspection.
Late Friday night, Cup series director Richard Buck made the following change:
Cars that made a qualifying lap will be permitted to purchase a new set of tires to start the race on. If this option is selected, teams must not practice on their qualifying tires and must return the qualifying set to Goodyear.
The total race tire allotment will remain unchanged – a starting set and 10 sets for the race.
In addition, for NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying Saturday, any team that does not make a qualifying attempt will start from the rear of the field and be required to serve a pass-through penalty once the green flag waves.