Hot 20 – Martinsville has to stay, but there is room for improvement in the NASCAR schedule

Thirty-six races. A few are great venues that produce very entertaining television events. A lot more are not. Some tracks have two events, and you wonder why. Some have two and you wonder…why not three? As our Hot 20 venture to Martinsville on Sunday to open the Round of Eight, would NASCAR be more appealing if we kept 36 races, but ran more of them at tracks people want to see races run? How about nine of them at NASCAR’s three most fan-favored venues?

If they put me in charge of NASCAR for an hour, this is what next season’s Cup schedule would look like. What do you think?

Feb. 18 – Daytona
Feb. 25 – Atlanta
Mar. 4 – Las Vegas
Mar. 11 – Phoenix
Mar. 18 – Fontana
Mar. 25 – Martinsville
Apr. 8 – Texas
Apr. 15 – Bristol
Apr. 21 – Richmond
Apr. 29 – Talladega
May 6 – Watkins Glen (from Dover)
May 12 – Kansas
May 27 – Charlotte
June 3 – Pocono
June 10 – Bristol (from Michigan)
June 24 – Sonoma
July 1 – Chicago
July 7 – Daytona
July 14 – Kentucky
July 22 – New Hampshire
July 29 – Talladega (from Pocono)
Aug. 5 – Watkins Glen
Aug. 12 – Michigan
Aug. 18 – Bristol
Sep. 2 – Darlington
Sep. 9 – Indianapolis
Sep. 16 – Las Vegas
Sep. 22 – Daytona (from Richmond)
Sep. 30 – Charlotte (road course)
Oct. 7 – Dover
Oct. 14 – Talladega
Oct. 21 – Darlington (from Kansas)
Oct. 28 – Martinsville
Nov. 4 – Texas
Nov. 11 – Sonoma (from Phoenix)
Nov. 18 – Homestead-Miami

That’s 36 races featuring six on a superspeedway, retaining six on short tracks while expanding to five road courses. Minimal changes, maximum impact. How does it look to you?

1. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 4069 POINTS – 7 Wins
Not only does he have enough in the bank to have a bad race, but could even take a day off.

2. KYLE BUSCH – 4042 POINTS – 4 Wins
Winning would have been nice, but not being eliminated is even nicer.

Junior wants teammates and young guns to advance…friends with the wrong team, not so much.

4. KEVIN HARVICK – 4017 POINTS – 1 Win
In 606 career starts, he has 303 top 10 finishes. You want to bet against good ole 50-50?

5. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 4017 POINTS – 3 Wins
The drive is alive for his date with eight.

6. DENNY HAMLIN – 4014 POINTS – 2 Wins
Virginia is for Lovers…and Virginians. That is the view of this native son of Chesterfield, Va.

7. RYAN BLANEY – 4009 POINTS – 1 Win
In 68 years, Wood Brothers have not a single driver’s championship. Maybe this is the year.

Might want to think about getting that first win sooner than later.

9. KYLE LARSON – 2236 POINTS – 4 Wins
Damn engines.

Damn guys who cannot count.

It was doubtful he was going to win, but after he got all torn up last week all doubt was removed.

12. KASEY KAHNE – 2126 POINTS – 1 Win
Leaving Hendrick pens and stationary behind him, but will be taking Travis Mack.

13. KURT BUSCH – 2124 POINTS – 1 Win
After flogging Monster Energy for years, I wonder if he is feeling a bit like Tammy Wynette.

14. AUSTIN DILLON – 2122 POINTS – 1 Win
His N.C. team lost 4-2 to the eventual 2002 Little League World Series champions of Louisville.

15. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 2119 POINTS – 2 Wins
Things got so bad he went from 12th and in the final playoff spot one week, to 15th the next.

16. RYAN NEWMAN – 2107 POINTS – 1 Win
His second-place finish at Talladega is sandwiched between two results outside the top 30.

17. JOEY LOGANO – 810 POINTS – 1 Win
A win a win, but is it really if it is an encumbered one that fails to give you a pass to the Chase?

His last win came on October 13, 2012, in Charlotte. Even an encumbered one might be nice.

One moment his car was facing this a’way, the next it was facing that a’way.

String of six straight among the top 15 came to a crashing conclusion last week.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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