THE LEFT TURN

The next NASCAR "roval?" 3 possible tracks that could benefit from a layout change

Could Daytona host the next "roval" race? Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Last week, for the first time in the series history NASCAR employed their Road Course/Oval Combination at Charlotte Motor Speedway and The outcome was a rousing success. Whether it was for first place or 15th place, there were battles for position all around the racetrack and the finish of the race was one that will always be remembered.  

Fan favorite Ryan Blaney was able to pass the spinning cars of Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. to claim his second career victory and first of the season. This race helped launch the sport back into the spotlight as it was one of the most talked about races all season. With the success that came with the race, this opens up the discussion for which of the tracks on the schedule could benefit in transitioning into a road course in the future.

While there are plenty of great road courses and ovals around the country that the sport doesn’t currently go to and would love to see a race at, that is an article for a later date. (it is important to note that there are no immediate plans for NASCAR to run another “roval” aside from Charlotte in the future, these are simply ideas that NASCAR could consider).

Daytona International Speedway: We Start off with the most obvious of tracks in Daytona. While the most famous race track in NASCAR isn’t likely to become a road course in the foreseeable future because the two traditional Daytona races are two of  the most anticipated races of all season. It would be very feasible to turn the world center of racing into a road course. This track is one of the many on the schedule that is a “multi-purpose” race track that goes through an enclosed section of the infield as the IMSA Sports car series runs their annual  24 hours of Daytona there while  the AMA Sports bike series runs their Daytona 200 around a condensed layout of the course.

Even though certain favorable aspects of the track that we see with the traditional Daytona oval layout would be eliminated, it would still be captivating to see the drivers try and get around the track. One possible issue that could arise is the chicane in the back straight away appropriatly named “the bus stop.”  Entering these corners, The cars would be traveling at a high rate of speed from corners No. 1 and 2 that getting slowed down in time could be difficult. One solution to this though is to run the 10-turn motocourse configuration which, like I stated earlier is shortened. The one thing that would stand in the way of this happening is how great the racing is already and many fans might not appreciate losing a restrictor plate race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Of all the tracks to possibly install a new road course configuration after Charlotte, this one is probably the most likely. Completed in 2000, the Speedway’s CEO and then President, Tony George wanted to bring a Formula One race to the track so he constructed a road course layout of the track which began in turns three and four of the oval and ran adjacent to the track's golf course in the infield. If  NASCAR was to race on the road course, it would drum up tons of interest that wasn’t particularly there for the oval. I truly would love to see the drivers try and adjust to the new version of the the track and how they would manage with the new layout and how they would adjust. While on the surface it might be a long shot now, don’t be surprised if in the future, the Brickyard is announced as the next “roval” on the schedule.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway: This is a track that doesn’t quite generate a lot of buzz around the circuit and one characteristic about the track that often gets overlooked is it’s incredible built in road course that extends all the way outside of the race track. Used primarily for motorcycle races and Sports car clubs, this track has several elevation changes and plenty of grooves to race around outside the track's oval. The only issue that would come with this layout is that the fans can not see what is going on around the road course area but with built in bleachers in that area of the track and the TV Screen that follows the track, I think that owner Bruton Smith could find a way to make it work like he did for Charlotte. While New Hampshire is extremely unlikely to do this in the future and there maybe a few logistical issues to work out but it is something that I would love to see and I am sure it would bring a lot more interest that may have not been there to begin with.

While some fans will read this and think adding more of these types of race tracks to the schedule would ruin the novelty of the Charlotte race, I believe adding more tracks like the one we saw on Sunday would only make the sport more interesting to watch, it would also be more challenging for the drivers to adjust to  new configurations. It should be interesting to see where the sport goes when they finally do decide to change up the schedule whenever that may be.

 

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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