Drivers don’t seem to mind the shorter schedule

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 31: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on May 31, 2019 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Saturday’s schedule for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers was something akin to bankers’ hours.

With Sunday’s Pocono 400 being an impound race, drivers showed to qualify their cars and had no further on-track obligations.

Not that Larson had any objections after qualifying seventh for Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“Well, we could go play golf,” quipped Larson, who has developed a real affinity for the game. “There are some really nice courses around here.”

But there’s also a practical benefit to holding two practice sessions on Friday and impounding the cars after qualifying on Saturday. That schedule eliminates one practice session versus a typical weekend that features practice before qualifying on Friday and two more sessions a day later.

“Saturday is always a tough practice, because the first practice is always so early in the morning that you don’t really learn a whole lot until the last few minutes of it anyway,” Larson said. “Not that it’s a waste of time, because you always learn something.

“But this is a way for the teams to save a lot of money. If we can sacrifice a practice session, I think it’s good for the health of the teams.”

Greg Engle