Talladega Superspeedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and information for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
Talladega Superspeedway schedule, news, media, tickets, and information for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track only on the official site of NASCAR.
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Get up to speed for the 18th Camping World Truck Series race of 2014 What: Ninth annual fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola Where: Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega , Alabama When: Saturday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. ET TV: FOX Distance: 94 laps, 250.04 miles Defending race winner: Johnny Sauter Pit road speed: 55 mph Fuel window: 40 laps On The Front Row " Full lineup 1. Tyler Reddick , Brad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Ford (186.827 mph) 2. Tayler Malsam , Turner Scott Motorsports No. 32 Chevrolet (186.714 mph) Fastest in practice: Ben Kennedy , No. 31 Chevrolet, Turner Scott Motorsports (188.902 mph) Best consecutive 10-lap average: Darrell Wallace Jr ., No. 54 Toyota, Kyle Busch Motorsports (181.877 mph) Former winners in the field: Johnny Sauter (2013) About the sponsor: fred's is a discount general merchandise store with more than 700 locations centered around the southeastern United States. Shake-and-bake : "Actually a couple days ago I was talking with some friends in Mexico. I talk very often with them and they asked me where is going to be my race this weekend, and I told them Mexico and Talladega and they told me, 'Hey, Talladega like the movie?' So, definitely there is a lot of history in this race track." -- Daniel Suarez, who is making his first career Camping World Truck Series start this weekend Not as easy as it looks: "It sounds simple -- holding it wide open and being in the draft, but at the end of the day there is a lot of things that you can do with it. I'll just be trying to learn as much as I can in practice and early in the race and be ready for when it matters." -- Erik Jones , who is making his first start at Talladega Keeping your head: "I've never raced at Talladega Superspeedway , but I already know that it's going to be a wild one. Something crazy always happens here. We ran well in Daytona earlier this year and we're bringing back the same truck, but I know Talladega can be a whole different animal. The key is racing smart so that you can make it to the last lap, and then it's game on until you can cross the finish line." -- Ben Kennedy , who is also making his first start at Talladega Relying on fate: "Racing at Talladega is just like going out and buying a lottery ticket -- you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. There's just no telling -- but you've got to play the game." -- Matt Crafton , the defending series champion and current points leader MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford fails to make GEICO 500 field MORE: Sunday's starting lineup RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today TALLADEGA , Ala. -- Changes to NASCAR's qualifying format for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway produced a number of surprises, not the least of which was the failure of Ricky Stenhouse Jr . to earn a starting berth in the 43-car field. The Roush Fenway Racing driver was one of three that failed to earn a starting position based on his qualifying speed -- Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson also failed to post times fast enough to crack the top 36 here Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . Sorenson ( Tommy Baldwin Racing ), 36th fastest in the opening round, was eventually added to the lineup after Joe Nemechek 's No. 29 Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection. "I didn't consider the fact that our position in points would leave us in jeopardy," Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush said afterward. "That was a blind side on my part. It's unfortunate we weren't in a better place in points, and that we had as many good cars as we did that didn't qualify based on time. It's just unbelievable that we didn't get on the race track in time to get a lap there." Stenhouse has made 72 starts in Sprint Cup competition, including 67 in a row since moving up to the series full time a year ago. He made five starts between 2011-12 while winning back-to-back championships in NASCAR's Nationwide Series . His team's DNQ was the result of several things, from Saturday's slow qualifying speed to his team's position in the owner points standings. During the first round, Stenhouse posted a speed of 176.947 mph, just 43rd overall for the round. While unfortunate, under normal circumstances, he would have been one of several slotted into the field in one of the seven remaining positions available based on owner points. But because seven drivers higher in owner points failed to crack the top 36 (Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon ), Stenhouse Jr. wasn't able to secure one of those starting spots. NASCAR determines its 43-car lineup based on the following: positions 1-36 are awarded based solely on lap times. Positions 37-43 are awarded based on a team's rank in the owner standings, and assigned positions based on their lap times. (If a former champion fails to post a speed in the top 36, he may be assigned the 43rd position, if his team isn't high enough in the owners' points standings to receive one of those berths.) NASCAR made changes to the qualifying format for Talladega , with teams split into two groups for the first round, and limiting the time of the round to five minutes. The latter change meant teams would likely get one opportunity to post a qualifying run with no time to return to pit road, allow their cars to cool and return to the track should it be necessary. Stenhouse was last in line in a group of cars that included Gordon and Harvick making their qualifying laps in the first round. But when Gordon slowed (to create a gap between his group and another group ahead of the pack), it slowed those behind him. Because they didn't get back to the start/finish line in time, they were unable to post another lap. "I thought being the last car in line would be beneficial for us," Stenhouse said. "We had Jeff Gordon leading the pack there; I thought we would have a good shot at putting a good lap in, but my spotter was telling me '‘hey, you have 30 seconds to get across the start/finish line' as we were entering Turn 3. "I don't guess the 24’s (spotter) was giving him a lot of information. He kept slowing the pack down and we didn't get a good lap and never got across the start/finish line in time. "My spotter was giving me the information I needed and I wish the 24 would have been doing the same." Stenhouse later tweeted the following: All I got tough day pic.twitter.com/4KWEFvpmQ9 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) October 18, 2014 Gordon said the qualifying plan "was shot before the plan started." "I messed up ultimately," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "I just mistimed getting to the line. The whole group was going so slow I knew I had to have a gap and when I came across the line I thought I had enough (time) to be able to complete that lap and get one more, which was the only way we were going to make it. "But we came up short. It's a mess out there. It's not easy." It was the second time this season a driver from the RFR stable failed to qualify for a Sprint Cup race. A week ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Nationwide Series regular Trevor Bayne was unable to qualify for the Bank of America 500 in a fourth RFR entry fielded just for that race. Roush, whose organization also fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards , didn't blame the qualifying format for the setback. "We just didn't get on the race track fast enough and I'm not sure who actually made that call. I'm not sure if it was left up to Ricky or the spotter or (crew chief) Mike Kelley," Roush said. "It's my responsibility to make sure we execute our program so we have a chance to qualify. We clearly didn't do it here and that's an oversight." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Johnson on outside looking in on advancing to Eliminator Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize TALLADEGA , Ala. -- Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is in unfamiliar territory. A favorite coming in to the new elimination format of the post-season, Johnson is in position to be dropped from the list of title contenders come Sunday evening after the GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN). Yet the Hendrick Motorsports driver is quite relaxed. After all, it's Talladega Superspeedway , and there's no use preparing for what you can't predict. " Talladega takes a lot of pressure off of a driver until race time, because there's not much you can do," Johnson said Friday before getting in his No. 48 Chevrolet for the first practice session of the weekend. "I think the majority right now of my head and the relaxed week and my calmness right now is just due to it being Talladega , and my job's really not important until Sunday." "And then, I'm sure, the pressure will kick in," he added. The No. 48 team's take-it-as-it-comes attitude isn't the only one in the garage. Jamie McMurray , driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing , was also expecting a low-key weekend until the green flag on Sunday. " Talladega is one of the more laid-back weekends for all of us. It’s typically one practice to see if the car feels good," he said. "I’m glad they base qualifying if it gets rained out on your practice speed, because it gets all the cars on the lap for at least one session. Then it is pretty laid back for the rest of the weekend until the race starts. So, it is one of the calmer weekends we get to have.” That's not to say there won't be any excitement at the 2.66-mile restrictor-plate track. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . is in a position to be eliminated after a 39th-place finish at Kansas and another disappointing finish at Charlotte. Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth , who made contact on the track at Charlotte and later ended the evening with a scuffle, are also looking to move into one of the eight positions that will continue into the eliminator round. Matt Kenseth is only one point behind eighth-place Kasey Kahne . Keselowski is 19 points out of the last transfer spot, with Johnson and Earnhardt each seven points behind Keselowski. A win is the only sure way for each of the five to advance. "We've seen races very competitive and aggressive, we've also seen races where the lead group of cars decide to ride around the top and makes it a single file race," Johnson said. "There is no rhyme or reason why that happens. So I think its hard to predict what the race will be like. I can promise you, though, with four guys needing to win to transfer that at the end of the race there will definitely be some racing. It might just be us four at the bottom trying to find our way around or in a different lane trying to get to the front, but there's at least four that have a really big reason to take chances and to be aggressive and to win." Aggression and frustration seem to be the common themes woven through this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup storylines, especially in light of the relaxed preparation for the carnage that is always expected at Talladega . Both emotions were evident on Johnson's radio last weekend, as the driver and his crew chief took part in an expletive-laden discussion about a poor-handling car. The brewing tensions that boiled over between Kenseth and Keselowski last weekend embodied that frustration, as well -- and it's clear that they haven't been forgotten this week. “I think there’s definitely an increase of intensity on the track and off the track; there’s no doubt about that," Ryan Newman , currently fourth in the Chase standings, said. "You’ve opened it up to more competitors, which makes the intensity even more. You get more attitudes and egos in there. That, I think, is kind of expected." With one last chance to advance deeper into the Chase, Kenseth, Keselowski, Junior and Johnson aren't there to make friends -- as Kenseth and Keselowski proved last weekend. That also goes for the Hendrick Motorsports duo, whose other teammates, Jeff Gordon and Kahne, are sixth and eighth in the standings, respectively. "At the end of a race, it doesn’t matter if it's Junior or my mom or anybody –- I have to win," Johnson said. "My quest to win a seventh championship is the thing I’m most concerned about. I know my teammates are going to think the same way and have the same approach. We’re out there to win for our teams and ourselves to move on and have a shot at the championship." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Kyle Busch fastest in Talladega final practice; Kennedy tops trucks Sprint Cup Series final practice " Results Kyle Busch claimed the top spot in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway as drivers conserved their equipment in the last tuning session before Sunday's main event. Busch, driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, topped the 50-minute stretch with a fast lap of 195.205 mph. He ranks second in the standings, highest among Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff-eligible drivers without a win in the Contender Round. Rookie Kyle Larson was second-fastest at 195.118 mph in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. Kasey Kahne , Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears rounded out the top five in final practice. With teams opting to avoid potential damage with practicing in large packs, only 21 drivers took to the 2.66-mile track in the session. Matt Kenseth turned the most laps (21) with Kahne logging the second-most (20). Three title-eligible drivers did not participate in final practice -- Carl Edwards , Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman . Joey Logano did not complete a full lap at speed and was last among the 21 drivers on the leaderboard. Harvick and Logano both have free passes into the next round of the Chase, thanks to their victories in the other Contender Round races the last two weeks. The rest of the title hopefuls will need to lock into the Eliminator Round in Sunday's Geico 500 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), when the field of championship-eligible drivers is shaved from 12 to eight. Sprint Cup Series practice 1 " Results Clint Bowyer shot to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway , using the aerodynamic draft to clock a lap at 200.385 mph in opening practice. Bowyer, driving the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 Toyota, carries two Talladega fall race victories (2010, 2011) into Sunday's GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), the sixth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs and the elimination finale of the three-race Contender Round. After Sunday's event on the 2.66-mile track, the championship-eligible field will be whittled from 12 drivers to eight. Aric Almirola was second-fastest in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford at 200.268 mph. Defending race winner Jamie McMurray ended the session third-fastest with Michael McDowell and Travis Kvapil completing the top five. Brad Keselowski was the fastest among Chase drivers still alive in the title hunt, clocking the eighth-best lap. Joey Logano (31st-fastest) and Kevin Harvick (37th) are already clear to the next round of the playoffs with victories the last two weekends. Three heavy hitters below the cut-off line entering the Contender Round finale -- Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr ., and Jimmie Johnson -- essentially need to win Sunday's race to control their own postseason destiny. Earnhardt was 12th-fastest and Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, 32nd-fastest. The hourlong practice session marked the first on-track activity for the Sprint Cup drivers, and the large pack of cars fanned out to three-wide early on. Johnson was among those largely avoiding the risk of heavy traffic, but his lap times reflected the lack of aerodynamic help from other cars. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled Saturday (4:40 p.m. ET, ESPNews) with Sprint Cup teams tackling their first go-round with a new format for restrictor-plate tracks Talladega and Daytona, announced last month. Teams will have three five-minute rounds of eliminations, with 24 of the 46 drivers making the second session and 12 drivers competing for the pole in the final stint. Final Sprint Cup practice is scheduled later Friday from 4:30-5:20 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). Camping World Truck Series practice 1 " Get results Rookie Ben Kennedy was fastest in Friday's first and only practice for Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway . Kennedy posted a speed of 188.902 mph on his 11th lap of the two-hour practice. Saturday will be Kennedy's first start at the Alabama track.Second-fastest was fellow rookie Mason Mingus at 188.872 mph. Tayler Malsam (188.857 mph), Ryan Sieg (188.835 mph) and Spencer Gallagher (188.824 mph) completed the top five fastest drivers. Points leader Matt Crafton posted a speed of 186.585 mph and was 14th-fastest of the run. Defending race winner Johnny Sauter was 17th-fastest (186.409 mph). Sauter is the only previous winner in the field for Saturday, and he trails teammate Crafton by 19 points in the standings. The practice had four caution flags. The first came out early for debris at the end of pit road. The second was for No. 74 Mike Harmon who spun in Turns 3 and 4. The third was for fluid on the track in Turn 4 and the fourth and final caution came out when No. 13 Jeb Burton stopped on the track after running out of fuel. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to the track for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 5:45 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1. Sprint Cup Series practice 2, 4:30-5:20 p.m. ET " Follow live MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Get all the on-track times for the weekend's NASCAR action RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota All times ET COMPLETE TV LISTINGS / BUY TICKETS FOR TALLADEGA / WEEKEND TRACK EVENTS This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series head to Talladega Superspeedway SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19: PRE-RACE SCHEDULE 12:00:00 p.m. ET: NSCS Driver/Crew Chief Meeting (Drivers Meeting Room) 1:30:00 p.m. ET: NSCS Drivers Introductions with NASCAR Special Awards 2:02:00 p.m. ET: Presentation of Colors by: Alabama National Guard 2:02:20 p.m. ET: Invocation by: Ron Jackson, Volunteer, Alabama Raceway Ministries 2:02:45 p.m. ET: Intro National Anthem (30 x 50 American Flag unfurled on ball field) 2:03:00 p.m. ET: National Anthem: 313th United States Army Band (Signed by Marshe’ Brownlee; a Student from Alabama Institute of Deaf & Blind) 2:05:00 p.m. ET: "This is Talladega " by Grant Lynch, Chairman of Talladega Superspeedway 2:09:30 p.m. ET: "Drivers, Start Your Engines" by: Rhett Rayburn, Regional V.P., Macon Southeast 2:21:30 p.m. ET: Green Flag – GEICO 500 (188 laps, 500.08 miles) ON TRACK -- 2 p.m. ET: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Geico 500 (188 laps, 500.08 miles), ESPN ( Get results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch Live ) -- 5:30 p.m. ET: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series post-race FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17: ON TRACK -- 9:30-11:30 a.m. ET: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice ( Get results ) -- 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FOX Sports 1 ( Get results ) -- 4:30-5:20 p.m. ET: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, FOX Sports 1 ( Get results ) -- 5:45 p.m. ET: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying, FOX Sports 1 ( Get results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch Live ) -- 12:15 p.m. ET: Darrell Wallace Jr . -- 12:30 p.m. ET: Michael Waltrip with Dr. Patrick Ellinor, American Heart Association and Gregg Ruppersberger, Group Product Director, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. -- 12:45 p.m. ET: German Quiroga and Daniel Suarez -- 1 p.m. ET: Jamie McMurray -- 1:15 p.m. ET: Matt Kenseth -- 1:30 p.m. ET: Jimmie Johnson -- 1:45 p.m. ET: Kevin Harvick -- 4 p.m. ET: Denny Hamlin -- 6:30 p.m. ET: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series post-qualifying GARAGECAM PRESENTED BY MOBIL 1 ( Watch Live ) -- 2 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18: ON TRACK -- 1 p.m. ET: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola (94 laps, 250.04 miles), FOX ( Get results ) -- 4:40 p.m. ET: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying, ESPNEWS ( Get results ) PRESS CONFERENCES ( Watch Live ) -- noon: Talladega Superspeedway announcement with Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- 3:30 p.m. ET: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series post-race -- 5:45 p.m. ET: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series post-qualifying MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Veteran holds off Malsam, Gallagher for first win of 2014 season RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings TALLADEGA , Ala.—Holding off all challengers in a race that went four-wide on the final two laps, Timothy Peters won the fred's 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . Peters arrived at the finish line .143 seconds ahead of second-place starter and finisher Tayler Malsam . Spencer Gallagher ran third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney , who trimmed 14th-place finisher Matt Crafton ’s lead in the series standings to 16 points with four races left in the season. The victory was Peters' first of the season, his first at Talladega and the eighth of his career. After ducking onto the apron to ensure a strong flow to the fuel pickup in his No. 17 Toyota, Peters, who had charged forward from the 26th starting position, led the field to a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 94 of 95, after Norm Benning 's spin in Turn 2 slowed the field for the sixth time. With a strong push from Malsam, Peters hugged the inside line into Turn 1 with Ryan Blaney to his outside. As the field spread out over the final two laps to three-wide and even four-wide, Peters doggedly held the lead and took the checkered flag with Malsam in his tow. "Chris Lambert, who spots for me, did a great job from the time the green flag fell till the checkered flag waved," Peters said. "It was system overload, telling me everything, how far apart they were in front of me, how close the guy behind me was, what run was coming on the outside coming to the checkered flag… "We were making our Toyota Tundra as wide as we could (on the final two laps), and so it feels really good to come across the start/finish line and kind of wipe missing the Daytona/ Talladega sweep by (16) hundredths of a second (Peters finished second at Daytona by that margin earlier this year). "It just felt really good to go to Victory Lane." On the final restart, Blaney got a push from sixth-place finisher Erik Jones and thought he was in position for the win but acknowledged he didn't expect a third line to develop to his outside as quickly as it did. "I thought we were in the perfect spot, leading the outside line into Turn 2," Blaney said. But the side draft from the outside line separated Jones from Blaney and broke their momentum, dropping them out of contention for the win. A rare engine failure torpedoed Johnny Sauter 's championship hopes. Sauter's Toyota slowed on Lap 24 and coasted onto pit road. His resulting 31st-place finish left him fourth in the standings, 36 points behind Crafton, his ThorSport Racing teammate. "Whatever… the championship's over," a disconsolate Sauter said in the garage as his team worked on his Tundra. "From here on out, we can just race like hell." At a track legendary for wild action, Ben Kennedy sustained the hardest hit on Lap 65, when Joe Nemechek lost control of his truck and knocked Kennedy's Chevrolet into the outside wall. Nemechek's first concern was for Kennedy's safety. After learning he had walked away from the wreck, Nemechek radioed, "Put all of the blame for that one right square on my shoulders," indicating his Toyota had been sucked around in turbulent air. Note: Daniel Suarez finished 15th in his NCWTS debut. On Sunday, he races in his native Mexico in the NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Grant Lynch: 'What they can do here is special' RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize TALLADEGA , Ala. -- Five minutes, five laps and the fastest lap of the five determines where you stack up in the 43-car lineup. Maybe that's the next qualifying format change for restrictor-plate tracks in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . "If you don't make five laps, you don't count any of them," an exasperated Grant Lynch, chairman of Talladega Superspeedway , said Sunday morning. Lynch said he thought the format used Saturday failed to achieve the desired result, which was to have multiple cars on the track for much of the opening round with speeds more closely resembling those seen in race conditions. Instead, some teams waited until the last possible moment to make a qualifying run and came up short when they were unable to get up to speed before the session ended. Tony Stewart , Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon qualified for today's GEICO 500 at Talladega based on their position in owner points, not by virtue of their qualifying lap speeds. Five of the seven drivers are championship contenders. Two full-time teams, the No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and the No. 51 of Justin Allgaier , failed to qualify because of how the owner points fell. "It's frustrating," Lynch said. "I've said this many times -- what they can do here is special. To see them have the opportunity to go out and finally … qualify at the speeds we race at … is disappointing. "But I understand strategies; I understand there are different people in the draft that will get different benefits." Drivers were no less taken with the new format, which broke the teams into two groups for the first session. "You don't really feel like you are doing your part as a race car driver in a qualifying session like this," six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said. "But it is plate racing and if it's entertaining I guess I'm OK with it." AJ Allmendinger , third fastest behind pole winner Brian Vickers and Johnson, the No. 2 qualifier, called it "a weird format." "I'm not sure it's any better than single-car qualifying," he said. "It's hard to say, but it is what it is." Former series champion Brad Keselowski said the bigger question was whether the fans liked the format change "because that is who we do everything for." "If the fans like it, then I'm happy, and if not, I am not," the Team Penske driver added. Lynch said he's certain NASCAR officials will look into possible changes to the format. "They've already taken it down from 25 (minutes) in the first round to five," he said. "I'd rather die quick than from a bunch of cuts." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation