We approach Watkins Glen weekend, the second, and final, road race for the NASCAR Cup Tour. The series has a long history of road racing but always as a minority role in determining the champion. With the current title-deciding format the question is often posed: does a road course race belong in The Chase?
Right now 36 points-paying events comprise the season schedule. The initial 26 set the 12 drivers to battle for the championship. Those dozen slug it out in the last 10 races for the coveted seat at the head table during the awards ceremony.
The two road racing challenges lie within the first 26 and none are in the Chase. Looking closer at the numbers, that is one road race out of every 13 races run. So if one road-racing event were placed with the 10-race shootout the ratio would not be that far reaching.
In spite of the numbers, I think there should not be a road race in the Chase.
This is NASCAR Cup racing. As much as it is criticized and critiqued, it is still the premiere form of auto racing in the United States.
And that form is stock car racing. A manner of racing that is contested on ovals, not road courses. The occasional road race during a stock car season is a novelty, a nice change of pace, an extra way to test the skill of the men behind the wheel. It is not and should not be a major deciding factor concerning any stock car series.
In my opinion, I enjoy road racing. But I only enjoy road racing with cars that are designed for road courses. Sports cars, Formula 1 machines, and even Indycars have road-racing woven into their schedule and design. All or at least part of their schedules belong turning left and right.
Stock cars belong on ovals. Maybe dirt, maybe asphalt, but always on an oval.
If the Chase format is to be used to declare the Cup Series champion, then the 10 races need to be indicative of what stock car racing is all about. This is NASCAR’s highest platform to showcase thousands of drivers that compete under their umbrella.
It is a stock car oval series and road courses need not be in the championship showdown.
Now if only we could eliminate the Chase all together. But that is another article.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
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