NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup series arrives in “Thunder Valley” this week. That is, Bristol Motor Speedway. This short track in the hills of Tennessee is labeled “the fastest short track in the world!” Today starts practice. The drivers have this one practice session before qualifying later on this afternoon (3:00 EST).

While on the track, Michael Waltrip, in his own #55 NAPA car got loose and spun into the inside wall. He was trying to go as fast as his team mates, #47 Marcos Ambrose and #00 David Reutimann. Now he will be qualifying in a backup car.

For those of you out there who are unfamiliar with NASCAR rules, I’d like to explain what this means. Everyone brings two cars in their haulers to every track every weekend. One of them is a backup car. Just in case something like this happens. The car is ready to go, just like the primary car.

In Michael’s case, they will unload the backup and replace certain parts that made the primary car fast, or improve on the overall performance of the backup car. As long as they do this before qualifying, and don’t touch the engine, Michael keeps his qualifying position.

What would happen if someone crashes after qualifying? If the team can repair the car, that car keeps the qualifying position. However, if the team has to go to the back up car after qualifying, the car will have to go to the rear for the start of the race.

Michael didn’t change engines with the switch in cars. If he had changed engines, he would have had to start from the rear. Even if he changed the engine before qualifying. That’s what happened to pole sitter #18 Kyle Busch at Las Vegas. There is a one engine rule, for the weekend. Any change in engine results in starting from the rear.

The backup car is different. Officials consider the backup car as one engine, as long as the change was done before qualifying. And Michael was able to get onto the track and practice the backup car. The officials decided not to penalize cars that go to backups because they feel that just using a backup car is penalty enough.

So, let’s review. If you crash during practice, before qualifying, and have to go to a backup car, NASCAR considers this backup car to be your primary car. And you qualify with it and start from that position. If you have to replace an engine at any time during the weekend, your car will start from the rear. If you crash after qualifying, and have to go to a backup car, you will start from the rear.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. See you after the race.

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One Response to “NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing”

  1. BornBin Says:

    You rock. World needs more souls like you.

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