No More Rolex Series Qualifying Races
Phoenix turned out to be the last one – of the five planned qualifying races in the 2006 Rolex Series.

‘Grand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson has instructed the Rolex Sports Car Series … to return to traditional timed qualifying procedures to determine grid positions for the remainder of the 2006 Rolex Series season’ says the Grand Am statement.

“I announced these sprint races to the teams at the Watkins Glen race last August,” commented Roger Edmondson (to the GA fans on the GA message board). “I made it clear then that at our current rate of growth, it was inevitable that sooner or later we would have to either split the field or start sending someone home. Simply having a car, desire, and budget is not enough in professional racing. Since we had tried the split races and did not like them at PIR last year, we wanted to try to have a system that would allow all teams some head to head competition and a chance to gain some points even if they did not make it to the final.”

The growth of the Rolex Series hasn’t yet brought it to the point of having to eliminate teams before the Sunday main race – so what were the teams qualifying for?

The reality was that the half hour races became processions, with few prepared to risk overtaking, and possible retirement. The points system – Roger Edmondson: “I took a decision to be consistent with our history. Therefore, all races count the same in the point standings.” – meant that a poor result on Saturday was as bad as a poor result on Sunday. The half hour races also counted the same points as the (48 times as long) Rolex 24, which seemed very odd - as did the fact that the grid order for the two separate (DP and GT) races was set in a combined free practice session.

As we saw at Phoenix, drivers didn’t even need to be present for the qualifying race to score points.

Roger Edmondson again: “If it provides our fans with extra entertainment and captures the imagination, great....and we'll see more of it. If it is a giant boondogle, it will go away.”

So a giant ‘boondogle’ it was.

The points scored in the three qualifying races will inevitably have had an affect on the standings though.

 

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