WHY THE SPRINT CUP NEEDS A DIRT RACE

The World of Outlaws World Finals was held Saturday on The Dirt Track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The four-tenths mile oval hosted the championship round for the touring late models and sprint cars. I had foot surgery right before the weekend and could not attend the race, even though it was a half-hour drive from my front door. But being laid up on the couch can make one a close friend with SPEED TV. And to my good fortune live dirt-track coverage was provided. While taking in all the Texas NASCAR action as well, my imagination worked up a good picture of a pair of dirt races on the Sprint Cup Series. Here’s why:

1. We are reminded of how we started. Racing started out on dirt. Paved tracks became the minority when the France family started sanctioning stock car racing. Racing on dirt would keep that connection to racing’s roots alive and well. Two dirt track races on the schedule would liberate dirt tracks from the history books and bring them back to our world.

2. Grounds the sport’s snooty elite. There are many people working in the industry who think NASCAR was invented the day they discovered it. They never had any grease under their fingernails or even have been to a grassroots track. They wear khaki pants and have a golf shirt with some company logo. It is just a job, not something they had a passion for, paid their dues for, and earned. Let them trudge through a muddy infield after a summer thunderstorm and let’s see how much they really love racing.



3. We race a pair of road courses. If teams are going to go through the time, expense and headache of building two road course cars every year then they might as well build a pair of dirt cars. At least the races would be on an oval. In all my years of working on teams, this discussion came up every season. And every shop employee was in 100 percent agreement on this when we had to assemble road-racing cars.

4. We would have dirt track “ringers.” As Boris Said and Ron Fellows add flavor to Watkins Glen and Infineon, Steve Kinser and Scott Bloomquist would add to the dirt race field. I can picture Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart up against Josh Richards, Tracy Hines and Joey Saldana. The pre-race buzz in my brain is building as I write this.
 

5. It’s just plain good racing. As I watched the World of Outlaws season finale, the racing impressed me. There are always cars side-by-side and in multiple grooves. Single-file racing seems like it rarely occurs. I have seen many dirt-track races in my life. Quite a few were viewed from the cockpit of my own racecar. The quality races far outnumber the poor ones.

(Patrick Reynolds is a professional racing mechanic who has worked for several NASCAR teams.)

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