NASCAR Talladega group qualifying…it’s something new NASCAR is trying out on its most spacious track. NASCAR fans can watch the NASCAR Talladega groups qualifying streaming online by following the link at the end of this article. While fans can expect it to be exciting – a Florida Times-Union report suggests that the new format will make every lap of the time trials feel like the final lap of the actual race at Talladega. Some of the drivers aren’t thrilled, however, suggesting that the new format will lead to lots of wrecks – and possibly several multiple car wrecks – in the qualifying rounds. While she hasn’t publicly expressed concern that she will crash during qualifying at Talladega like she did for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond (where she finished a disappointing 34th, but didn’t crash), race fans can’t help wondering whether Danica Patrick will crash before she even qualifies this time around.
Whether or not Danica Patrick is afraid of a crash, several NASCAR drivers – drivers who have actually won NASCAR races – are expressing concern about the free-wheeling new qualifying format. The Florida Times-Union report quotes Carl Edwards recalling the last time NASCAR drivers used group qualifying at Talladega (that time it was because of concerns that bad weather would prevent a normal qualifying round):
“The only time we have had to do that at Talladega was last year, I believe, and we knew it was going to rain qualifying out so everyone was trying to post the fastest time and it was insanity. We ended up on the pole, which was great, but we almost wrecked the race car.”
According to a report in The Sporting News, Brad Keselowski – who is currently ninth in the Sprint Cup standings with one win and four top five finishes – was a bit more direct in his prediction of the likely results of the Talladega group qualifying. Keselowski said the NASCAR Talladega group qualifying event would be “a big wreckfest and a disaster.”
The new “knockout” group qualifying format used at Talladega will involve the whole field – including Danica Patrick, whether or not she is concerned about a crash – running time trials for 25 minutes. The top 24 – including Danica Patrick if she manages to run fast enough and doesn’t crash – will move on to a second, 10-minute qualifying session. The top 12 in the second session will move on to the third round of the Talladega group qualifying, with the times in this round determining the pole position through position 12.
What do you think? Will Danica Patrick crash during the NASCAR Talladega group qualifying event? How many other drivers will crash with the new Talladega group qualifying format? You can watch the NASCAR Talladega group qualifying event live starting at 1 PM Eastern Time Saturday here.
[Image via Shutterstock]