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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Bringing NIL deals to high schools will have some challenges. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Name, image, and likeness, or NIL as it has been known, has been a hotly debated topic. When some states allowed college athletes to start getting paid through NIL deals, others had to follow suit. NIL deals basically allow athletes to get paid from endorsements and the like. They can make appearances, sign autographs, and get endorsements. No longer can schools make a king's ransom off the backs of these athletes without the athletes themselves benefitting from their popularity.

Sponsorships are also allowed, which started some of this years ago when Jeremy Bloom was a pro skier who also played college football at Colorado. Bloom wasn't allowed to have sponsorships, which was a HUGE part of his skiing career, if he wanted to continue to play college football. After fighting a losing battle when the NCAA declared him permanently ineligible, Bloom went on to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He went on to have a couple short stints in the NFL, but his football career never materialized.

When a few states took the NIL law and opened it to high school student athletes, they REALLY opened a can of worms! Other states are now in full scramble mode trying to figure out how can they make this work, do they want to make this work, and wondering if this will open Pandora's Box. Newsflash: Pandora's Box has been open longer than your local grocery store chain. Schools have been paying for play ever since time began. SMU got the dreaded "Death Penalty" in the 80s behind it. Teams have seemingly had wink-wink agreements not to out one another. But high schools? This is a bit much.

AAU, club, and travel sports have had a shady undertone that's been more intense over the last 20 years or so. This is especially true in AAU basketball, where shoe companies and the like have long been "sponsors" of teams. Follow your favorite NBA player's career from high school to the league, then see what shoe company he signs with. I guarantee there's a pipeline in most cases straight from the sponsors of his AAU/high school team to his shoe deal.

Bringing NIL deals to high schools will have some challenges. For example: I heard this past weekend that a prominent high school player has an NIL deal in place with Bentley. What if said school sees a kid at another school, possibly in another state that may not have NIL deals for high schoolers. What's stopping said school from relocating this kid and family by offering them new jobs as well as an NIL deal? Private schools and charter schools aren't regulated like public schools. What's going to stop them from using funds to create a factory of college athletes by offering what other schools can't as far as NIL is concerned?

Here in Texas, football is king. Specifically, high school football. You can go to any town on a Friday night, and the local high school stadium is packed to the brim. If any of you think those towns won't band together to offer kids the best NIL deals they can in order to gain any advantage, you're crazy. States will need to hurry and approve this to stay competitive, but they'll also need to regulate it as best and as fast as they can to prevent a wild west scenario. I can see this getting out of hand quickly, but then some will step in to regulate it as soon as the scales no longer tilt in favor of the rich and powerful.

Texas is an oil rich state. New tech companies are moving here in droves because of the state tax laws. That's why the housing market is looking the way it is now. With the way high school football is like a religion here, imagine if NIL deals are allowed? What's stopping a powerhouse program from becoming invincible and cranking out 10-20 or more top tier D1 athletes from a single graduating class on a single team? We already see it with these human athlete factories masquerading as high schools.

I'm all for student athletes taking advantage of NIL. However, it has to be regulated. Why not have agents get trained and certified like pros do. Then also have them register in each state and pass a state certification, similar to the way lawyers or real estate agents have to. Now everyone is state and/or federally certified to help kids get what they can above board in NIL deals. This could've helped prevent Nick Saban's ignorant comments from last week by bringing much needed law and order to the wild west of NIL deals. Until it happens, we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I'll sit and watch the utter CHAOS (in my Khal voice)!

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