A Road Course Remedy Is What NASCAR Needs

by Jim on June 24, 2013 · 16 comments

56 78 raceCan it really be any more obvious? The buzz heard ‘round NASCAR nation is all over the racing on the road courses at Infineon and Road America. Forget everything you used to think about road courses, because these two events, along with recent history have shown, the idea of three or maybe even four road course on the schedule is what NASCAR needs.

The road course events are no longer a “vulture’s holiday.” Road course ringers? Who needs them? The notion of a hired gun brought in to give your team a better finish is a desperation ploy for the bottom feeders. Even then, how’s that worked for them?

Today, after the Sprint Cup event in Sonoma, and the Nationwide Series race in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, it’s not Ron Fellows or Boris Said we’re talking about, it’s Martin Truex Jr. and A.J. Allmendinger that are the hot topics of conversation. Truex busts a long victory drought and Allmendinger’s road to redemption makes an inspirational stop. Oh by the way, these two aren’t road course specialists- especially not Truex, who was more of a short track guy.

For this fan, it’s fun to watch drivers negotiate the tricky turns. You also have to have a keen eye on where to pick your points to pass; and if you’re smart enough to know where to steal one, you just might be a winner. It another challenge addressed by courses such as these is the downforce issue. Not only does it open the door for greater competitiveness, it also gives us better battles for position. Getting up front is not about clean air, it’s about getting out the traffic jams. Cookie cutters? No two road courses are alike.

It’s been brought up before, but it bears repeating I hear so-called “old school” race fans carp about these not being “the tracks on which NASCAR was built.” Horse hockey! Do you think moonshiners were outrunning revenue agents on ovals? I’ll give you a hint: No! Besides, does anybody remember Riverside?

No, you can’t have these every week, but imagine adding say, a Cup date at Road America, and then pick some other course around the country. As far as pulling dates go, I think we all have nominations, and most of them are on the tracks of the mile-and-a-half variety.

Come on, NASCAR, think about it. Here’s an impactful change, Brian France: get places like Road America on the schedule, along with a couple of more short tracks (including some that had Cup dates taken away). That’s a change worth believing in.

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1 Vicki Williams June 25, 2013 at 3:49 am

If they could somehow work it out, my favorite was Montreal. Tough, beautiful track.

2 Jim June 25, 2013 at 9:19 am

@Vicki. That’s a brilliant suggestion. Great setting.

3 Doug June 25, 2013 at 9:46 am

You are exactly right, we need a road course remedy. Get rid of all the road courses. if people want to see road racing there are a bounch of other series for that. Lets leave na$car for the ovals. And speaking of ovals why is it that we only have 2 Martinsville and Bristol? All the rest are D shaped tracks they call ovals.

4 Nate June 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

I totally hear ya! The only problem is that for Brian France there isn’t enough suites to put his sponsorship dollars in! Why do you think they don’t go to Wilksboro any more? It was great racing stands would be filled, but yet there wasn’t enough suites. But hey who cares about the fan right? They only fill the majority of the stands watch the racing on tv. Guess Mr.France doesn’t see the empty stands and the single file racing when hes shakin’ hands and taking cheques.

5 Jim June 25, 2013 at 11:21 am

@Doug. To be sure, I am by no means suggesting we turn NASCAR into a road racing series. I am merely suggesting that out of 36 races, the idea of 4-5 races on road courses- in my opinion- wouldn’t be excessive. It sounds like you object based on the body (?) style of the car? Why not mix it up? I’m curious about the “why” as I am sure you’re not alone in your point of view. As I recall my buddy and Racer’s Reunion talk show Patrick Reynolds would say “Its like putting a pig in ballet slippers.” to each his own I guess.

6 Jim June 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

@Nate. and we know this, until the suits feel a pain in their wallets nothing will happen. Makes me think those half empty stands don’t bother them too much; that they overbuilt these place to begin with. The thing is, there was once a day they filled them up!

7 Old_Timer June 25, 2013 at 11:28 am

One word … … ROAD ATLANTA … … … okay … that’s two words!! Weekend double-header — IMSA/GrandAm “3 Hours of Road Atlanta” on Saturday … and NASCAR “3 Hours of Road Atlanta” on Sunday!

8 Ava June 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

If you have an honest poll involving a majority of fans, you will find a majority of them do not want the road courses that now exist, much less one in the Chase. For the fans at the track they may be wonderful, but for the fans watching on TV they are boring, disconnected, and not pleasurable. A stockcar, by it’s very nature, is not built for this type of racing. This boxy car is awkward to watch and I imagine it’s even more awkward to drive.

9 Bob June 25, 2013 at 5:40 pm

More road course races.

10 Vicki Williams June 25, 2013 at 5:53 pm

This is why I feel sorry for NASCAR. We accuse them of not being responsive to their fans but which fans since we don’t agree on anything!

11 Jim June 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm

@Vicki. I often find myself thinking the same thing.
@Ava…..you may be right, but IMO, I think that’s changed over the years. If the drivers are having a hard time negotiating the turns, they hide it well. You take a guy like Ambrose, and it’s like watching Yo Yo Ma play the cello. That said, Truex looked slick Sunday.
@Old_Timer. I’ve never seen Road Atlanta, but I’ll take your word for it.

12 Zeke June 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

You are advocating this based on Sunday’s race. Full of pit road screw ups, inept NASCAR calls, and the ultimate, a fuel mileage race. Give me a break, this race wan’t any better than the others. How about a mandatory pit stop with 50 miles to go in a race, then turn them loose and see who wins without all the crap involved, ON THE TRACK!!

13 Jim June 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm

@Zeke. I guess it goes to show beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I didn’t necessarily think Sunday’s race was GREAT (to clarify), BUT based on the overall quality of racing on road courses, such as Saturday’s race at Road America, and the overall body of work, I stand behind my assertion. Interesting your suggestion regarding the mandatory pit at 50 to go- second time in a week I’ve heard a fan advocate for something like that. Personally, my gut reaction is, its worth looking at, though I disagree that fuel strategy is not racing. That, to me, is no different than a long distance runner pacing themselves and managing their reserves for a kick at the end.

14 Matt Griffin June 25, 2013 at 8:59 pm

1)Move a date from Michigan to Road Atlanta.
2)Run Sonoma in late March, Watkins Glen in late June, Road Atlanta in late Sept. as Chase Race #2.
3)Atlanta and Darlington swap dates.
4)Dover loses a date to Iowa.
5)Chicagoland moves to mid-August, Richmond becomes Chase Race #1.

15 Jim June 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm

@Matt. I think you ought to run that one up the ladder. Better yet, give Darlington its second date back. IMO- Pocono can lose a date, and so can Kansas. One date? OK, fine. Two? No way. Truthfully, VERY few tracks deserve two dates. I think MOST if not ALL should be the “signature” tracks: Bristol, Martinsville, Darlington, Daytona (yeah, it’s a plate track, but it DAYTONA), Richmond and I guess Charlotte, but it’s really not my favorite.

16 Justin June 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm

We in Richmond rather enjoy being the last stop on the race to the chase, Thank you very much.

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