Following yesterday’s NASCAR XFINITY event at Mid-Ohio, it was depressing to check Twitter and see people bashing the event instead of congratulating an unsuspecting Justin Marks on a surprise win. Sure, those people were in the very minor minority. Still, the race was exciting, fun, and definitive NASCAR. Kyle Busch wasn’t there to dominate, and considering the series is relatively new to Mid-Ohio it was a given that this race belonged to anyone.
With a true underdog in Marks taking the checkered flag coupled with the absolute insanity that was the race, it’s a simple fact that NASCAR needs more road courses. It’s been pointed out repeatedly that the Sprint Cup Series is over-saturated with cookie-cutter tracks and the Camping World Truck Series is loafing around with the lone road course at MoSport. Add more road courses to diversify the competition.
Each road course in the continental United States, from Sonoma to Watkins Glen, from Road Atlanta to Road America, from Lime Rock to Virginia International Raceway, has its own individual personality. There’s no worry about confusing Charlotte with Texas or Chicagoland with Kansas. The fact that each road course is a bit different from each other makes it clear that each race could be anybody’s. Doesn’t that define good competition – the unpredictability of a race’s outcome? It’s why true fans watch the sport.
Strategies, techniques, maneuvers, everything like that is amplified on a road course. That’s why we see some of the names that we do at the top of the board once a road course race is over. Names like Andy Lally, who finished seventh at Mid-Ohio. Lally, who piloted the No. 90 for Mario Gosselin, is also a three-time IMSA champion. Also up at the front was Israeli-born Alon Day, who finished 13th after running as high as fourth. The NASCAR Whelen Euro standout drove the No. 40 for MBM Motorsports.
Also, it would be easier for NASCAR to run events in the rain. Now considering the events of Mid-Ohio, a lot of people would be happy if they never ran in the rain again. But being able to compete in the rain would be a convenience for fans, plus it would help get a scheduled event in on time as well as cut down on yellows and red flags. Plus, it could open the door to a whole new learning curve for some of NASCAR’s growing drivers and teams. Fans and competitors could bear witness to the possible growth of some of NASCAR’s up-and-coming underdogs, like Marks, who prior to winning at Mid-Ohio, had a season-best finish of 11th at Talladega.
All that and more is why we need more road courses. Granted, ovals are what put NASCAR on the national map and sets the sport apart from other forms of racing. But road courses these days are producing definitive NASCAR racing, a good product that represents what’s great about stock car racing. NASCAR needs to drop these silly second dates on some of the 2.5-mile race tracks and start adding in more road courses.
Big dittos on the need for more road courses. One easy place to start is Daytona. Make the second date run on the infield road course. Imagine the only significant road race in the world with full stadium seating and a view of each and every corner on the circuit from every seat in the house. Plus that would eliminate one of the hated restrictor plate races from the schedule in one shot. And in the doubtful event it doesn’t work out, switch it back the next year. No schedule changes or track contracts to deal with, just move the barricades around. I’d advocate the same treatment for any facility that wants a second date. Las Vegas has been lobbying for a second date for years, no problem, they already have an infield road course in place. As do many of the tracks on the circuit. Ditto Indy. Replace the Snoozeyard 400 with a race on the F1 circuit.