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.

 

The NASCAR Report - Daytona 500 preview

NASCAR returns for the 63rd annual Daytona 500

Credit to: https://partyfixx.co/ecategory/daytona-500-tickets-event-guide/ for the photo

The time has finally arrived. After months of preparation, this Sunday the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series takes to the high banks of Daytona for the crown jewel of them all, the Daytona 500. It's a new start and the slate is clean and for two-hundred laps, it's anyone's race.

Over the past three months, there have been a multitude of changes that has shaken up NASCAR's landscape. For starters, NASCAR is under new management in 2019 as former Vice CEO Jim France will take over as acting Chairman and will be in charge of all day to day operations. The first major change he and his staff made this year was the decision to strip the winner if they are to fail post-race inspection. This decision was met with high praise from both fans and journalists alike and for the most part, many would consider this change a step in the right direction. It would appear that France could very well could be the guy that takes the sport and brings it back to prominence in the public eye.

For all of speed-weeks, the big story has been the apparent return to form for Hendrick Motorsports. Last Sunday when it was time to qualify, Hendrick drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman swept the front row to clinch their starting spots in the 500. The team then backed up their dominance of the week with Jimmie Johnson went on to win the rain shortened Advance Auto Parts Clash. After a dismal 2018, many questioned what was wrong with the most prestigious teams in NASCAR but everything appears to be back to normal for this team. Look for this team to be a serious threat for all of 2019.

The driver that I have winning this year is Ryan Blaney. Over the past week, he and his team have not been quite as fast as i would have expected. After a disappointing qualifying effort, some have been quick to write him off but after an impressive showing in the second Can-Am Duel, Blaney and his team showed why you shouldn't sleep on him. While his average finish of 22.38 at the plate tracks hasn't been ideal, it is important to note that in In last year's race, he led a race high 118 laps before he was involved in a multi-car crash with three laps to go. This year, I think he will be vindicated for last season and capture his third career victory in the Great American Race and cement himself as one of the favorites in the run for the championship in 2019.

If you are looking for underdogs for this race, then look no further than Chris Buescher. Coming into this race, he enters at +8800 odds to win which I think is pretty good value considering that last season at Daytona, he finished fifth in both the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in July and while he may not have lead any laps those races, he did a good job of keeping his nose clean and got a great result because of it. Overall, despite struggling to find speed in practice or qualifying, he did run well in his Can-Am Duel Race as he finished seventh. Overall, I think that for the most part when it comes down to the end of these races, he always seems to find himself right around the lead pack and if everything could go right and he can make the right move in the draft, we could see the Texas native go to victory lane.

It's shaping up to be an intriguing Daytona 500, and if for any reason you prefer not to hear the television broadcast, you can catch the race live on ESPN 97.5 starting at 12:30 as they bring you flag to flag coverage of the race.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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