NASCAR Could Improve Sprint Cup Schedule Without Even Changing Tracks
For years now, people have called for NASCAR to refine the Sprint Cup Series schedule which is diluted with rather pathetic tracks. You’ll hear a lot of people pushing for less cookie-cutter-shaped facilities while begging for more road courses and short tracks in their place.
Although I am a huge supporter when it comes to reforming the current schedule, there is a major road block in the way. The issue is that Speedway Motorsports (SMI) and the International Speedway Corporation (ISC) own almost every single track that NASCAR currently races at and their strong presence precludes other tracks from getting a piece of the action. It’s going to be very hard to branch out with those titans having a stranglehold on most of the events on the calendar. So, I have a more realistic proposal than just abandoning some of the less-exciting tracks we currently have and it’s one that would allow SMI and ISC to keep NASCAR at their venues.
I have a couple ideas actually. Firstly, let’s take some of the longer races that are notorious for getting a bit dull and splitting them into two sprint races. It works for V8 Supercars and Indycar, so why wouldn’t it work for NASCAR? Take a track like Pocono (sorry for picking on you guys) and instead of having a 400- or 500-mile marathon, have two 100-mile sprint races. One could be run on Saturday and the other on Sunday or both on the same day; doesn’t matter. I can assure you that the action and intensity would increase drastically with the introduction of sprint races and would be much more enjoyable for the race fans both attending and watching from home.
My other idea is a way that we can augment the number of road courses on the schedule without actually going out and finding some road courses to race at. Homestead, Indianapolis, Kansas, Daytona, Las Vegas, Auto Club, Texas and Chicagoland are all fully functional rovals. A roval is what we like to call ovals that are equipped with infield road courses. Tracks that have two dates such as Texas and Kansas could have one race on the oval while the other could utilize the infield road course. Also, I’d bet that the attendance would be higher for the roval race … just saying. It would be a great way to shake things up without even altering the schedule which would save NASCAR a major headache.
We could actually combine both my first and second ideas to create something really interesting. Imagine NASCAR going to Kansas Speedway and instead of one 400-mile race, there could be two sprint races held. The first will utilize the infield road course and the second could be a 100-miler around the oval. It would be an epic weekend of racing that every fan would enjoy and one I’d certainly drive across the country to see.
Heck, let’s take it one step further and turn the spring Bristol race into a dirt race. Think it can’t be done? Think again. They used to cover Bristol in dirt for the World of Outlaws in the early 2000s. It would be absolutely incredible to see the best racers in NASCAR tearing it up on the dirt again and Bristol would be the perfect place for it. It’s already capable of hosting a Cup race obviously, and they’ve proven in the past that temporally converting the place into a dirt track can be done.
NASCAR needs to attract fans back to the track with something they haven’t seen before. The Truck race at Eldora in 2013 was a huge deal, attracted fans from outside the country and was an incredible success. And we’re talking about a standalone third tier NASCAR race in the middle of a cornfield here! I can’t even fathom the publicity for a Cup race implementing the ideas I’ve suggested. It would be a prudent move by NASCAR, advantageous for the sport, a new challenge for the drivers, fun for the fans and it would solve a lot of problems.
Nick DeGroot is a Contributing Writer For Rant Sports NASCAR. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89.