Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 NASCAR Tracks

With no reason to update the rankings (unless you think going on vacation messes up Jimmie Johnson‘s mojo), we thought we’d do something a little different this week. There are nearly 30 tracks on the schedules of the three major touring series of NASCAR. But just as they’re all sorts of shapes and sizes, every fan ranks them a little differently. Each one has a favorite, and defends their logic in discussions at the office, while watching at home, and even in the stands on race day.

So we’ve decided to spawn a little debate ourselves. Our pundits have ranked their favorite tracks, and we’ve compiled the top 15 of them to give you a sense of what they’re looking for in a speedway. The number one track will be of little surprise to anyone, but the rest of the list has a very thorough mix of different styles. Where does your venue fall? Read below to find out… and then let us know if you think we got it right.

How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football – writers on staff will vote for the top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… voila! You have one batch of power rankings to serve to our fans.

Rank Track (First-Place Votes) Points Series
1 Bristol (2) 160 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
Racin’ The Way it Oughta Be! Or used to be. Even though nobody throws their helmet or footies in retaliation anymore, cage rattling and ambulance slapping has never been better than here.
2 Daytona (2) 148 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
Great races, big time tradition. Daytona’s always hard to top… even with an occasional pothole or two.
3 Richmond (2) 147 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
It’s a short track! It’s a superspeedway! It’s the best of both worlds.
T-4 Martinsville (2) 146 Cup/Trucks
Paperclip perfection, one of the few throwbacks and links to the past of the sport. The shrubs in the turns make it our Wrigley Field, the only track on the circuit where we’ve raced every year since 1949. Pink hot dogs, grandfather clocks, trains and even the bump-and-run… there is literally something for everyone.
T-4 Darlington 146 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
The Track Too Tough To Tame usually is, and that’s why it’s so great. It’s a rite of passage for any driver, and a “must have” on the NASCAR schedule for eternity.
6 Dover 107 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
The Monster Mile was one of the few tracks to have a white-knuckle race with the CoT. A bit of a roller-coaster (the races are usually a 10 or a 1 with no in-between) but we’ll take that bet anytime at the casino next door.
7 Talladega (1) 101 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
Built with the express purpose of hosting 200-mph stock car races. Even in the midst of the most mundane of seasons, ‘Dega always delivers.
8 O’Reilly Raceway Park 97 N’Wide/Trucks
The big trophy may be over at the Brickyard, but the real racing at Indianapolis in the summer happens at a short track just a few short miles away.
9 Atlanta 96 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
It used to be the best intermediate. Now, it’s simply fighting for survival. What gives?
10 Iowa 87 N’Wide/Trucks
Still not enough races under its belt to move it right to the top of the list… but if they keep having finishes like last year? It’s well on its way.
11 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 79 Cup
Sure, the stock car field might get strung out and you can only see a little over half of the 2.5-mile oval from even the best seat. But it is the still the most famous racetrack on the planet, and a “bucket list” destination for any gearhead worth his salt.
12 Charlotte 72 Cup/N’Wide/Trucks
It’s been at the core of the series for most of its life and still puts on some good shows. We just wish they had never heard of the word “levigate…”
13 Watkins Glen 69 Cup/N’Wide
The type of track that always offers a surprise ending, and who doesn’t appreciate that – even if they don’t like road courses?
14 Sonoma 56 Cup
Road courses are a “love ’em, hate ’em” type of thing. But everyone loves Wine Country… right?
15 Pocono 46 Cup/Trucks
Shaped like a triangle and in the middle of nowhere, it’s an ode to Indy, Milwaukee, and the old Trenton Raceway. How cool is that?!
Also Receiving Votes: Memphis (45), Phoenix (43), Texas (40), New Hampshire (37), Homestead (36), Gateway (29), Las Vegas (22), Nashville (20), Michigan (20), Kentucky (13), Montreal (12), Kansas (11), Berlin (7), Chicagoland (6), Road America (5), Fontana (3).
Writer Voting Panel: Phil Allaway, Brock Beard, Thomas Bowles, Bryan Davis Keith, Tony Lumbis, Mike Neff, John Potts, Vito Pugliese and Kurt Smith.


About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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Bryan Davis Keith

Pocono???? You gotta be kidding. Have y’all ever been there? Can’t see the cars on the front cause they hug the wall and you need a Hubble telescope to see them on what amount to 2 back stretches. The only good thing about the place is the number of toilets and the fact that 90% of the racing is so far away you don’t need earplugs. The only, and I mean only, reason that place is still on the schedule is because Doc and his wife refuse to sell.

Bryan Davis Keith

Personally, I don’t see how Bristol can be #1 on anyones list. The past 5 years at Bristol haven’t been exciting.

If I compiled a top 5 list, it would be for races at tracks that I would show to a new-comer in the sport. In that reguard Daytona and Talladega would have to be #1 and #2.

Pocono is only cool to fans who are tired of “cookie cutter tracks”

Also surprised that no one mention Tony’s track El Dora.

Bryan Davis Keith

I actually agree with this list, mostly. I’d put Texas in front of all the other 1.5milers since, well, it’s the one I go to several times a year :P.

Also, I’d have Pocono higher. It is a great track. Would be even better with 350 or 400mi races instead of 500.

Bucket list or no, Indy is pretty ho-hum for stock cars. I’d trade IMS for Iowa or ORP any day.

Bryan Davis Keith

Where is Chicagoland Speedway?
That is the best track in NASCAR!!!!!!!!!
Just kidding
The Brickyard where you go and see the track itself
Not so much the race
Like the rest of the list

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