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2-Headed Monster: Should NASCAR Add More ROVALs?

This weekend marks one of NASCAR’s most anticipated ones of the 2018 season: the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series are both racing on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL for the first time ever. No one knows how good the racing will be, but nearly everyone expects it to be a wild show.

With this much excitement for a ROVAL event, it begs this week’s question: Should NASCAR move more races to infield-configured  courses at tracks on the current schedule?

To ROVALs and Beyond

It’s hard to say for sure because there hasn’t been a race on a ROVAL yet, but, for now, I’ll say that there should be more ROVALs in the sport for both potential audience growth and cost concerns.

There are 12 tracks that have an infield road course layout, according to an NBC Sports Twitter post.

The infield configurations should definitely be tried out for the July Daytona International Speedway race and one of the Pocono Raceway races. Daytona is a crash-fest more than a race most of the time, and it would sort of be a link to the past’s original road course along the beach. Pocono’s too treacherous to human health to be raced at twice a year, as the vicious crashes in NASCAR and IndyCar over the past several years have shown. Also, the races there are about as exciting as watching paint dry, and since NASCAR is obligated to race there twice a season, try a ROVAL format to see if it races any safer or is more exciting.

The Camping World Truck Series should be the first to test out the infield courses when racing at either of those tracks. Because of their microscopic budgets compared to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series or top NASCAR XFINITY Series teams, tearing up equipment is far more severe than it would be for a team like Hendrick Motorsports, or even Front Row Motorsports. It would be cost saving to teams and give road-course ringers a chance to experiment with stock cars, drawing them into the sport.

If Talladega Superspeedway still has an infield course layout, NASCAR should certainly use it for one race as well for the same reasons I outlined for Daytona.

Kansas Speedway would also be a good candidate to test a ROVAL race for the same reasons that Charlotte Motor Speedway is trying it: the track is a cookie-cutter one-and-a-half mile, generally making for a dull on-track product. Those tracks definitely don’t help NASCAR’s image to potential new audiences, who think, “Cars are going in circles for forever, and nobody’s passing anyone. Why do people like this sport?”

If NASCAR really wants to become a more global sport, some form of road courses needs to become a larger part of the schedule, since other racing series around the world almost exclusively use road or street courses. Drivers like Alon Day, Daniel Suarez or Juan Pablo Montoya grew up on those types of tracks and have or are currently racing in Cup, which helps out the sport from a diversity angle.

True road courses would help in this area more than ROVALs would. More races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park would be a welcome addition to the schedule, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course might make a good place to race in Cup.

This weekend’s pair of races in Charlotte will probably be chaotic and they might be a disaster, but at least they’re willing to try something different, which is extremely necessary to position the sport for the future. Since there are no race notes to go off of and there is a potential for rain in the weekend forecast, those add more unknown variables to the equation.

For now, I am hesitantly in favor of expanding the ROVAL experiment. -Wesley Coburn

Don’t Usher in ROVAL-geddon

Everyone needs to calm down with the ROVAL talk. NASCAR doesn’t need to litter its schedule full of ROVAL races just because we have one this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

We don’t know what will happen during the race. It could be a complete disaster, whether it be because it’s a passing-free snoozefest or because it’s a demolition derby.

And even if Charlotte manages to pull off two thrilling races this weekend, that doesn’t mean we should go all aboard the ROVAL train. This weekend might only be good because of the unknown. Once teams figure out the track, it might not be anywhere near as entertaining.

Even if Charlotte’s infield produces a track with consistently-good racing, it doesn’t mean that every track’s infield will. I know that Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway already have successful races on their road courses, but that doesn’t mean that the heavy cars of NASCAR will put on a good show on those tracks.

Wesley mentioned above changing the July Daytona race to the infield road course, but the Firecracker 400 is an iconic and popular race — you can’t replace that with something that might not be as good. He’s right that Indy and Pocono Raceway haven’t delivered too good of races recently, but that has more to do with the cars than the track.

When I first started watching NASCAR, the road courses were the worst races on the schedule. Then, NASCAR went and added splitters and made these cars so aero-dependant that it killed the racing at the oval tracks and made road racing look better. So instead of abandoning these once great ovals for their inferior infield courses, let’s get the cars back to where they can actually race each other.

Instead, I see this situation playing out just like it did for the cookie-cutter mile-and-a-halves. Leading up to the 1990s, the racing at the mile-and-a-half Charlotte oval course was great, so NASCAR went overboard and reproduced a ton of tracks just like it. Now, our schedule is overrun with those tracks, leaving people to want any sort of track that is different. The same thing will happen if the schedule suddenly consists of a ROVAL every other week.

Also, I don’t want to get behind the idea of ROVALs because it is such a cop-out by NASCAR, who restricted itself from going to new tracks by signing long contracts with the current ones. If fans seem content with the ROVAL idea, then NASCAR will re-up the deals with the current tracks and we won’t get any new and unique venues on the schedule.

This is everyone’s warning to not go all in on ROVALs. Let’s look into adding another great short track first. -Michael Massie

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About Wesley Coburn

Wesley Coburn
Wesley has been with Fronstretch since October 2017. He loves well-told stories in whatever format he finds them. Aside from NASCAR, he enjoys reading, country music and OKC Thunder basketball. He has a BA in Liberal Arts/English and currently lives in eastern Oklahoma, where he works as a freelance writer/editor.

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14 comments

  1. Avatar

    I could never understand that while ISC owns the facility that hosts one of the premier road races in the WORLD, 24 hours at Daytona, that they have never used that course for their sister company Na$car. Particularly considering the roll of the dice crash fest random winner racing that restrictor plate tracks have become. The Daytona 500 is the marquee race at that track, the Firecracker 400 should hands down be at on the road course at Daytona. For that matter, to avoid repetitive boredom in general, ANY track that hosts more than one race should have the second race as a different format, ala Charlotte this year.

  2. Avatar

    More road races are fine, NASCAR cars and drivers are a great show on road courses. However, they should use some of the tried and true tracks already in existence not some piece of junk like what Charlotte appears to be.

  3. Avatar

    I might suggest that NASCAR should consider either Barber Motorsports Park, in Alabama or Circuit of the Americas, in Texas, as both are world class road courses.

  4. Avatar

    If all they want is more wrecks, why not just chain all the team cars front to back and race on a figure eight track?

    • Avatar

      Wait till 2019…..they can’t change everything at once………will they chain each of the top 16 with the next 16? Inverted? Such possibilities

  5. Avatar

    Can we at least see what happens this weekend first? The racing at the Superspeedways is fine, so we don’t need a road race at Daytona or Talladega. The one track with a Roval that jumps to mind is Kansas. I’ve seen sports cars race there. If this weekend is a success, Kansas’ spring race might be a good candidate.

  6. Avatar

    Why would anybody even ask this question before the one scheduled for this weekend has even been run?

  7. Avatar

    Does it really matter Nascar is gonna do what ever they want and then issuse the marching orders to out and sell it

  8. Avatar

    Next week’s “should nascar yadda yadda yadda” question:

    Should nascar add more cheese to the very expensive concession nachos?

  9. Avatar

    What a stupid question. NO.
    The monopoly that SMI and ISC have on races being held at only their tracks should be ended and races should be given to proper road courses regardless of who owns them. Why settle for an inadequate roval if you want more road courses on the schedule when there are perfectly good road courses available.

    • Avatar

      You do know the relationship between ISC and Nascar right? No way in hades is Nascar going to take a race away from a track they own and give it to someone else. That very expensive real estate needs to be put to use making money for the folks in Daytona Beach.

      But it is a nice dream though.

      • Avatar

        Of course I know that. It is that conflict of interest that keeps NASCAR from making good decisions that could right the ship.

        • Avatar

          Even if other tracks were given the chance to hold an event the amount they would have to pay would mean they couldn’t make money. And the problem is still that the cars are unraceable and the drivers don’t want to race.

  10. Avatar

    Indy has proved beyond a doubt that the track is terrible for stock cars. Using the infield road course there certainly couldn’t be any worse than the stinkers they put on now. With 2 races, Pocono might attract more spectators if one of the races was on the infield road course, especially since the races are so close together on the schedule.