Supercars drivers suggest NASCAR-style grid system
Supercars should consider adopting the NASCAR system of letting the polesitter choose what side of the grid to start the race from, according to three of the series' leading drivers.
The Aussie category uses a traditional standing start procedure, with each row lined up in a side-by-side formation without any staggering.
That means pole is generally situated on the inside of the front row, which is intended to help with track position, but means starting from the dirty side of the track.
Asked to comment on grid positioning after seeing polesitter Shane van Gisbergen make a sluggish getaway in Perth on Sunday, the top three drivers from the race all offered some level of support for a NASCAR-style system that lets the pole-winning driver choose what side of the road to start the race from during the warm-up lap.
The system would allow the polesitter to make his or her decision based on changeable variables such as track condition and weather, as well as permanent characteristics like the distance from the start line to the apex of the first corner.
The idea was first brought up by David Reynolds, who said he's experienced the system while racing in New Zealand.
"When I raced in New Zealand, the polesitter got to choose whether they wanted left or right," said Reynolds. "That was a good system."
Scott McLaughlin, who has started from pole 21 times since the start of last season, quickly agreed that the system could work in Supercars.
"That'd be cool where you could choose where you [start], like NASCAR do it," said McLaughlin.
"When you roll around you could choose which position you want to be. [It] could work in your favour, could not – that's your choice."
While potentially advantageous at some circuits, the implementation of a NASCAR-style system with a last-minute decision on the grid formation is complicated by the FIA circuit regulations used in Australia, which require a permanent pole position to be nominated.
A more straightforward outcome would be a straight switch of pole position, making it permanently on the cleaner side of the track.
However McLaughlin added that in most cases that wouldn't make much difference, except perhaps for somewhere like Hidden Valley with a long run to the first corner.
"It is dirty [on the inside], but they do sweep the track beforehand, so as long as they do that it's fine," he said.
"I think a place like Darwin or something [it could work]. It's such a long run to Turn 1 and it's so dirty on the inside, the straight is so wide, the grid positions are so wide – maybe something like that.
"It's been the same for so long, [you've] just got to adapt."
Veteran Craig Lowndes agreed that simply reversing the rows wouldn't make a significant difference, but also supported the idea of letting the polesitter choose.
"I've been here many years, I've been on both sides of the grid on the front row and to be honest I think I've got the equal best starts on both sides," he said, using the Perth circuit as a specific example.
"But then it definitely needs to be swept to give everyone an opportunity, especially these soft tyres which leave a lot of rubber on the track.
"I'm all for backing these guys. If the pole guy wants to choose, [that] could be a good option."
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