Michael Waltrip joked after his qualifying lap Friday at Bristol that he went from Daytona 500 champion to start-and-park driver. And that's true, as Waltrip, who's driving the PRISM Motorsports #55 this weekend, qualified 39th and will probably park the car in the early laps of Sunday's race.
And for PRISM, that's old hat. But Waltrip's teammate, Dave Blaney, qualified a little bit better than Waltrip did. OK, I take that back. A LOT better.
Blaney qualified third, which was his second great qualifying effort of the 2010 season after qualifying fifth at Auto Club Speedway. At ACS, Blaney dropped to the rear of the field at the start (and for some reason, as we also mentioned, Fox thought that Blaney was running for the championship)
We're just five races in, and Blaney already has two top five qualifying efforts, more than some championship caliber teams, so this raises an interesting question: should PRISM Motorsports be morally obligated to run the entire race if they qualify exceptionally well?
Again, starting and parking has been a universally accepted and often-used practice, so that's no the issue here. Normally, most start-and-park cars have to sweat out their qualifying laps, hoping that they get into the race by hundredths, or even thousandths of a second. Then when it comes time to park, it's no big deal because they're already at the back of the pack.
Yes, start-and-parks are at a bit of an advantage because they can spend the whole first practice working on qualifying setups. But let's face it, no matter the practice time (or resources) if you can qualify in the top 10 in the Sprint Cup series, you've got a pretty good piece.
And what good is that pretty good piece if you're not going to race it? It's nice that Phil Parsons and Randy Humphrey get to pocket a hefty paycheck when they get their two cars in the race, so why can't they go out and try to win more money when they've got a car capable of being fast?
Of course, there are no guarantees at Bristol and Blaney could get caught up in a wreck like he did last year. But Parsons has made more in his ownership career than many NASCAR fans will ever make in their lives. Let Blaney race when he qualifies so well. Don't NASCAR fans want as many drivers as possible to attempt to unseat Jimmie?