Qualifying at Talladega brings forth concerns for some drivers

Photo Credit: Mike Holtsclaw

The new qualifying system will be brought to a superspeedway for the first time in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Qualifying at Talladega is going to consist of three rounds of ‘knock-out’ qualifying, and whoever can post the fastest lap in the last run of the top 12 cars, gets the coveted pole at Talladega.

A lot of people have expressed fear over the new format resulting in some accidents during qualifying. However, the concern isn’t shared by the drivers. Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx car, has no wins at Talladega but seems confident coming into the race, and doesn’t seem too concerned about qualifying.

“I think it’s going to be more of an exhibition than anything,” Hamlin said, talking about qualifying. “If you’re 25th, trust me, you’re not going to sleep uneasy the night before the race because you’re starting 25th. That can change within lap one.”

He also added that he doesn’t believe it is that important for the race either and that sentiment is shared by Kevin Harvick.

“I thought about just going home and starting in the back,” Harvick stated. He did add that he was going to have to be careful, and he spoke of his optimum running in qualifying to be “catching the pack and have four or five cars lined up behind you.”

Some aren’t exactly as placid as Hamlin and Harvick seem to be.

Brian Scott has experienced this once before in the Nationwide Series qualifying at Daytona in February and thought that it was “absolutely insane.”

“There were multiple opportunities that my car was in that could’ve been multi-car wrecks in qualifying. I think we only did the first [qualifying round] at Daytona – didn’t move forward [to round two] – and it was crazy,” Scott said. “I can definitely say that I’m nervous to go to Talladega to do that again. The good thing is qualifying doesn’t matter so much on the superspeedways and we may error on the side of caution and let qualifying end up where we do and not worry about it.”

While he may not be worrying about where he qualifies, it’s safe to assume that he is worried about what happens during qualifying – and it’s safe to say that some drivers probably agree.

Whether drivers are for it or against it, it’s coming. Whether the fans like it though could have a huge factor into whether it stays around or not.

Qualifying for the Sprint Cup series can be caught on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday, May 3rd, at 12:10.