O’Donnell made the comments during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He said that there is an argument that “the racing is actually better” when the drivers show up and have little or no practice. He added that the drivers have argued for more practice so that they can make improvements and become more competitive overall.
“You look at this year, you look at what we did to kind of meet in the middle a little bit,” O’Donnell said during his appearance. “It’s important for our television partners and our fans to have something going on at the race track, so this was a bit of a compromise in terms of what we wanted to try to do to minimize practice, have the qualifying show, and then see where we land.
“That is definitely on the table to discuss with the industry. We’ve got an owners’ meeting coming up next week to kick that around and see what we may want to do as far as 2023 and what an event looks like.”
O’Donnell continued and said that they want to put on a great race. Though he noted that another important aspect is that there is enough “product” available at the track for the fans buying tickets and making the trips.
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The Old Style Will Not Return in 2023
The race weekends in 2022 have primarily featured 20-minute practice sessions with the field split into two groups. Expanded weekends have had 50-minute sessions while superspeedway races have just moved straight ahead with single-car qualifying.
This format may not return in 2023. This is will be a key point of discussion between NASCAR and its owners. However, the series will not return to the old style either. O’Donnell clarified that the future will not feature several practice sessions throughout the week leading up to the actual races.
The old style benefited the veteran drivers such as Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. They were able to work with their team throughout the various sessions, take copious notes, and make the necessary changes in order to get them up to speed and ready to contend for numerous wins each year.
1 Driver-Owner Specifically Asked for More Practice Time
The amount of practice has been a talking point throughout the season. There are multiple drivers that have mentioned a desire to get more than 20 minutes so they could better prepare for each race. Corey LaJoie, for comparison, said that problems are still going to arise for the drivers and teams regardless of the amount of practice time.
Brad Keselowski, who is in his first season as a driver-owner for RFK Racing, provided yet another opinion. He explained that the team has saved money in certain areas with the shorter practice sessions. However, they have had to spend a considerable amount adapting to the new formats. Keselowski also said that more practice would potentially curb the drastic rise in cautions and spins through the first 16 races of the Next Gen era.
“I think we’ve probably saved a million or two in travel and spent it all back in simulation and engineering to try to unload at the racetracks and not blow out tires and still be fast, and arguably that’s not working for anybody,” Keselowski said, transcript courtesy of NBC Sports. “It’s definitely time for a deep dive and look back at the weekend schedules and the practice and qualifying formats.”