The Frontstretch: Was Junior Right? by Mike Neff -- Thursday September 7, 2006

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Was Junior Right?

Full Throttle · Mike Neff · Thursday September 7, 2006


Mike Neff

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Everyone has opinions about California Speedway. The racing is boring. The racing is exciting. The shopping is great. It is too hot. It needs to be reconfigured. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was asked this week what they should do with the track. He suggested they dig it up and redo it. While I am in the camp that thinks the racing is pretty good and gets better every year, it is an intriguing idea to think about what they could do if they dug up the track and started over.

It would certainly be nice to see ISC build another Rockingham or North Wilkesboro on the West coast. Since neither of those tracks have much of a chance of getting back onto the Cup schedule, it would be nice to see NASCAR show some loyalty to their roots and try and build a throwback track that reminded the fans of some of the great tracks of the past. With modern technology you would think that they could get some of the materials that are used in making the pavement in Rockingham, NC and build another cheese grater of a race track that would devour tires like ginger snaps and test the metal of every competitor every time out.

We have yet to see a race at the new Iowa Speedway. The track was recently completed and could be a very viable blue print for the track of the future. It is 7/8 of a mile tri-oval with 12-14 degree variable banking in the corners, 10 degree banking on the front stretch and four degree banking on the back stretch. There will be a Hooters Pro Cup race there on September 15th if you are interested in seeing what the new track has to offer.

Another option that will never be explored by NASCAR but would be a great thing to see on the schedule would be to build a one mile dirt track. This past Monday the ARCA cars ran on the one mile dirt track at DuQuoin Illinois, one of two dirt stops for the series each year, and it is great to see stock car racing the way it started. NASCAR certainly wouldn't put just one dirt track on the schedule, but it sure would be a thrill to see 43 Cup cars tearing it up on a one mile dirt track like they did when the sport first started.

Like most NASCAR fans, I think there are too many 1.5 mile tracks on the schedule. Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas, Las Vegas, Homestead and Texas are just too much of the same type of racing. Daytona and Talladega are enough plate tracks. Bristol and Martinsville cover the half mile bullrings. However, there is only one ¾ mile track on the schedule. This weekend's venue: Richmond International Raceway.

If you poll the Cup series drivers, most of them will tell you their second favorite track on the circuit is Richmond. Atlanta is the hands down winner because of the speed and the multiple grooves, but Richmond is a solid second place. It has the tight confines of a short track, which also gives lots of close racing, but it also offers the higher speeds of the 1.5 mile tracks. Most of the fans that I have spoken to that have been to the track say it is the best track on the circuit for viewing a race. It isn't as loud as Bristol, and it offers some of the best racing that you will see all year.

If ISC were to listen to the fans, and we all know that is probably not going to happen, they could do a lot worse than building another Richmond style track in California. It still probably wouldn't tear the fans away from the great shopping under the grandstands, but it would be a great change of pace to the steady diet of big tracks that we receive right now.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Ed F. Phillips
09/08/2006 08:08 AM

Junior is right.I plan to go to Vegas next year for that very reason.Bank those turns.

09/08/2006 11:03 AM

JR was absolutely right. Both races at Cali have been absolute snoozers. There would have been better racing on the freeway out there.

BTW, it’s “mettle” not “metal,” when you referred to drivers’ mettle in the second paragraph. :)

09/08/2006 11:48 AM

Thanks DC. I always try to use words in their proper context. I appreciate the advice. Thanks for commenting on the article as well.

Howard Baumann
09/08/2006 12:10 PM

I have missed only one race at California sense it opened, I only come here because I get a chance to spend time with my brother who lives in San Diego. I whole hearted agree with Junior. I also agree with Mike Neff that another 3/4 mile track would be the way to go.

09/08/2006 02:18 PM

I live only about 40 miles from Fontana, I’ve been there ONCE since it opened and will not go back. It’s always too hot and always a boring race. I make at least 2 trips a year to Phoenix, and 2 or more trips to Vegas. My favorite race is the truck race in Sept.
They’re opening a new track 1/2 mile in Bakersfield with varied banking,hopeing the trucks will come back.


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