Why Were NASCAR Trucks Running Faster Speeds and Times Than Cup Cars at World Wide Technology Raceway?
When talking about NASCAR, fans recognize it’s a three-tiered system with the Truck Series at the lowest level, Xfinity one step up, and Cup at the top. Based on that hierarchy, you would expect the Cup Series to feature the top drivers racing the top equipment at top speeds.
At World Wide Technology Raceway this past weekend, fans saw two out of the three with the Truck Series drivers surprisingly recording faster times and higher speeds around the 1.25-mile track than their Cup counterparts.
NASCAR Truck Series qualifying results
As the case is every race weekend, the NASCAR Truck Series practiced and qualified before the Cup Series over the weekend at WWT Raceway near St. Louis. During Friday’s qualifying session, Ty Majeski earned the pole by posting a time of 32.569 and a speed of 138.168. Finishing second was his ThorSport Racing teammate and 2021 champion Ben Rhodes, who ran a time of 32.663 and speed of 137.771.
All the top 10 qualifying times finished under the 33-second mark, with eventual race winner Grant Enfinger coming in 10th with a lap time of 32.976 and a speed of 136.463.
Cup Series qualifying times and speeds slower than trucks
On Saturday, the Cup cars ran qualifying laps in the format where the top five from each group advanced to the second round. In that final round, Kyle Busch won the pole with a time of 32.802 and a speed of 137.187. Ryan Blaney finished second at 32.810 and 137.153.
They were the only ones in Cup qualifying to top the 137-mph mark. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick didn’t hit 137 on speed but were the other cars to finish under 33 seconds.
Not a good look for NASCAR
When comparing results between the two series, there are a couple of numbers that stand out in particular. First and most obvious, the top 10 qualifiers in the Truck Series all beat the 33-second mark compared to the top four in the Cup Series.
Grant Enfinger’s 10th-place result would have landed him fifth in Cup qualifying. Conversely, Busch’s pole result would have only earned him the fourth starting position on the Trucks grid.
In addition, the top five Truck qualifiers all topped the 137-mph number, compared to the two in Cup, with pole sitter Majeski the only one to finish above 138 mph.
All of the numbers combined can’t be what NASCAR wants. A sold-out crowd showed up on Sunday to see the best in the business. And with that, presumably the top-performing/fastest cars in NASCAR. That’s not what they got.
NASCAR officials should be exploring ways to address this going forward because it’s not a good look when your top billing gets outperformed by what is considered your lowest level of competition.