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No surprise: NASCAR track operators welcome qualifying changes

Auto RacingStock Car RacingKasey KahneHendrick MotorsportsInternational Speedway Corp.

After NASCAR announced an overhaul to its qualifying format that sets each race's starting grid, reaction among some track operators was swift.

--The changes mean "even more excitement" on qualifying day, said Richmond (Va.) International Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier.

--"Adds excitement," said Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis.

--"A totally new element of excitement," said Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark.

--"Should add significant excitement," said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell.

You get the idea, and this response should surprise no one.

NASCAR previously used a single-car qualifying format. One driver at a time would circle the track and their speed would determine where they started the race -- fastest to slowest, in order.

Qualifying typically is on a Friday before a weekend race and, for track operators, this format was less than compelling theater as they tried to draw spectators on qualifying day.

But on Wednesday, NASCAR announced that it will now use a group-session "knockout" style of qualifying, where lots of cars will be on the track at the same time.

At longer tracks, there will be three sessions as the fastest drivers keep advancing to the next round and the slower ones are knocked out. At shorter tracks there will be two sessions. For fans at the track and those viewing on television, there will be a lot more to watch.

But don't just ask the track operators. Driver Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports tweeted Wednesday he also liked the changes because, well, they'll "add more excitement."

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