After being involved in a wreck during the opening round of qualifying that left his Daytona 500 primary car beyond repair, Clint Bowyer was left fuming with the NASCAR hierarchy.
Bowyer led a group of drivers that included Bobby Labonte, and Denny Hamlin as the trio began to catch and get held up the previously damaged car of Reed Sorenson. The two made contact when Bowyer attempted to get under Sorenson going into turn one, sparking a crash that collected them along with the car driven by Labonte.
The new format is a change from the traditional way teams and drivers were accustomed to qualifying for the Great American Race.
In the past, drivers would go out for solo runs and set the field for Thursday’s Budweiser Duels, a pair of qualifying races that determines the lineup of the Daytona 500. Now, drivers prepare for knockout qualifying. A format that received its fair share of scrutiny at Talladega last year after several full-time teams failed to make the race.
A frustrated Bowyer said that his Michael Waltrip Racing team put in six months of preparation leading up to the Daytona 500, and now it has been negated over what he sees as a pointless qualifying format.
“There is no reason to be out here,” Bowyer said. “These guys have spent six months working on these cars, busting their butts on these cars. But it isn’t (Sorenson’s) fault. It’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out in the middle of this crap for nothing. We used to come down here and worry about who would sit on the front row in the biggest race of the year. Now all we do is come down here and worry how a start-and-park team like this, out of desperation, is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500.”
Bowyer continued to not point fingers at Sorenson, instead claiming he was “disappointed in NASCAR.”
Should something go incredibly wrong for Bowyer in Thursday night’s qualifying race, it is possible for the No. 15 team to miss the Daytona 500 due to their 19th place finish in the owner’s standings last season.
Image: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images via NASCAR