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4 Burning Questions: Why Does Kansas Have Two Races?

How long until W Series fails?

Last week, the FIA announced a new all-women series, (W Series), which will begin competition in 2019. W will use Formula 3 caliber female drivers in Formula 3 spec cars.

At first, this sounds pretty cool, right? A series that will showcase rising female stars and give them the stage to find sponsorship and move up the ladder. It sounds like a no-brainer on the surface.

After thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a bad idea.

Motorsports is a great genre of sport, because it’s one of the few where men and women are on a completely even playing field. Say what you will about Danica Patrick (trust me, I’ve probably already said it), but she proved that female drivers can at least compete at a high level. Patrick proved that women don’t need their own special series to race in.

So Formula W seems pretty sexist from a competition standpoint. What the FIA is basically telling all of these women drivers is that they can’t compete with the men, and to instead go race in Formula Powder Puff in order to advance their career.

It is nice that the FIA is investing money into a series to give women a stage to showcase their talents. It’s hard for anybody to find enough secure funding to get a ride in any form of motorsport — and women probably do have a bigger uphill battle than their male counterparts. But sectioning them off does nothing but exclude them from the “real” racing series.

No matter how much the sanctioning body likes to spin it, the NASCAR Drive For Diversity Program has not been a major success at all. But NASCAR’s system is miles better than what the FIA is doing. With NASCAR, they hold a combine every year, and then financially support those who make the program through Rev Racing in the two K&N Pro Series’. At least with NASCAR, they aren’t fencing them off in the lower divisions by making an entire series for them.

How offensive would it be, if NASCAR decided tomorrow to make Pro Series African American? They’d be rightly skewered for it, and there’s no real difference there than W Series.

Who will make it into the Round of 8?

This weekend’s playoff cut-off race is simple, in all honesty.

Alex Bowman needs to get his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in order to survive into the next round. Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney are basically in the same boat if the penalty assessed to the No. 42 team is upheld. There is a chance that Larson could sneak into the next round of the playoffs by points, but would need to have near perfect race. Brad Keselowski is also in a tough position, needing to gain 19 points on Martin Truex Jr. on top of having no new winner in the race.

On the opposite side of the grid, Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola are locked in courtesy of their wins in this round. Kevin Harvick would need a lot to happen to fall out of the playoffs. Otherwise, the four other drivers between themselves and the cut-off line are in danger of being eliminated, and it becomes a pretty big free-for-all if Bowman, Larson or Blaney end up winning the race.

Why does Kansas still have two races on the calendar?

Kansas having a second date on the NASCAR calendar makes no real sense from an outsider’s perspective.

At one point, it made perfect sense for the NASCAR playoffs to visit Kansas. Kansas is where longtime series sponsor Sprint is based at, and it didn’t hurt to make the company paying the bills happy.

But with Sprint out of the picture, there’s really no point to Kansas being in the playoffs. Yeah, there’s a casino there, but it’s not in a major market and, most importantly, the racing isn’t consistently exciting enough.

In the age of this current TV contract, live attendance is not as important to the bottom line as it once was. International Speedway Corporation could very easily give the date to any of its other tracks, such as Chicagoland Speedway or Darlington Raceway (although they’d need to re-arrange the schedule so that Darlington could have a spring or fall race). But the two most interesting tracks in the ISC portfolio that could take the date are Watkins Glen International and Auto Club Speedway.

It would be strange to imagine a world where Watkins Glen would theoretically have an early summer date and then a playoff race. But it isn’t completely unheard of for a road course to have two races in a season; the old Riverside International Raceway once held three Cup races in one season in the early ’80s.

What’s more is that Watkins Glen would be yet another wild card race in the playoffs, but this one doesn’t seem artificial like the ROVAL. Or cheap like Talladega. There would even be a path for a road course ringer such as A.J. Allmendinger to win one before the playoffs, win the ROVAL in the round of 16, then sneak into the round of eight with a win at Watkins Glen.

Auto Club once had a fall race, and it was a failure in a lot of aspects. But a lot of things have changed since the last one in 2010. The surface has aged considerably, and it arguably stages some of the best racing in all of the Cup Series. It’s also in a great location, and it’s one of the rare tracks on the schedule now where there’s a genuine chance of a sell-out. Why not take a risk and hold another fall race here? TV money is going to be the same no matter what track it is, and there can always be another change to the schedule down the road.

What will the fallout of last week’s Talladega race be next year?

NASCAR runs a fairly well run ship about 95 percent of the time — just listen to the officials channel during a Cup race. But it seems like everybody loses their minds when the series goes to either Daytona or Talladega.

Last week was just more evidence that Talladega should not be a playoff race. Everybody drove way too conservatively for way too long, and then a controversial call at the end of the race has made an immeasurable impact on the playoffs.

NASCAR is in a tough spot here, aren’t they? If they call the caution there, everybody is mad at them for not letting them race back to the line. If they don’t call the caution there, everybody is mad at them for not being consistent with the rules. Some may forget that in the Camping World Truck Series race just one day prior, there was a crash on the backstretch and NASCAR indeed called for the yellow flag.

The only real rule that might be able to counter balance this would be a line a la the overtime line from a few years ago. Only in this case, the line would only be there for the white flag lap, and if the leader crosses it, there’s just no more cautions called on the track. It’s not as safe as just freezing the field, but once again, NASCAR is in a pretty tough spot here no matter what they do.

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About Michael Finley

Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

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10 comments

  1. Actually Mr. Finley if one thinks about it the live attendance may be more crucial to the TV ratings then one thinks.
    If one parlays this to a stick and ball sport, how does a partially filled stadium look on an otherwise beautiful day if it is 50% full to a new TV viewer of that sport?
    It could give an impression of why should I care if the local market for the team does not. I will go find something else to do.
    Versus if the stands are full and the fans are excited and into it that comes across the TV as well. So its a “Hey I need to check this out more because the people there are having fun and there is a lot of them.
    Go check the NFL attendance just from a full stadium or not perspective and then check who is on National TV games a lot to see if this correlation may hold true. I would guess the PAcker’s Cowboy’s, Patriot’s, etc. would not be on TV as much even if winning if the stadiums were not also full most of the time.

    Overall though yes why does Kansas have two races anymore? but do not give a date to an existing track. Try out a new one or as some have suggested the idea or rotating tracks, use this specific playoff weekend to have a rotating track attended schedule and see how it goes. Obviously the tracks would need to be CUP viable but why not try Iowa its actually fairly close to Kansas Speedway. Try Road America, try Gateway, try something different.

    • Remember that tracks get 65% of the television money. The TV contract is worth about $820 million per year. So tracks are basically breaking even no matter what they do, at worst. I agree with you and will add that long term, live attendance is how you build a loyal fanbase, but I’m not the guy running the show. And every move NASCAR has made in recent years (Late start times, late in delaying races due to rain, etc.) points to them not really caring that much about live attendance compared to the TV audience. This is not just NASCAR, to be fair. Every sport does this now due to the live sports TV rights bubble. Just look at Thursday Night Football.
      Finally, as I said in the article, we’re looking at ISC tracks as ISC would not hand off the Kansas race to another track owner. I know the France family controls NASCAR and the ISC and Iowa is owned by NASCAR, but we’ll never see that track on the Cup schedule unless it changes ownership. Shareholders would be angry about losing out on a weekend’s worth of revenue.

  2. 100% agree with Captain Spaulding.
    The CASINO is the REASONO Kansas will always have two races.

    People need to realize and I really wish the journalists would that NASCAR is a business first and a sport second.
    Nothing will ever change as long a one entity controls the schedule and what tracks get said races .

  3. one word “CASINO”

  4. ISC Track Sites

    Auto Club Speedway.
    Chicagoland Speedway.
    Darlington Raceway.
    Daytona International Speedway.
    Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    Kansas Speedway.
    Martinsville Speedway.
    Michigan International Speedway.

    If ISC took an “event” away from Kentucky it would be replaced by another ISC track. For me that would be Martinsville or Darlington. A second race at Darlington would be my choice (how about a Rebel 400 in the spring) or a third at Matinsville. Perchance to dream!!!!

    • It’s funny how the greatest finish in NASCAR history happened in the spring Darlington race… and then they took a race away from Darlington just two years later.

  5. Why on earth would they go back to California for a second race again? How about Iowa or Nashville? The race at the Roval was great. Why call it artificial? Several tracks should only have one race. Live attendance is important. They better make it important if they don’t see it that way now.

    • They built a track in the infield of a pre-existing racetrack, which they only did so because the pre-existing racetrack is one of the worst to watch on the schedule. How is that not artificial? Race was exciting, sure, but let’s not beat around the bush

      • so, the Daytona 24 is artificial

        • That’s a completely different situation. The Daytona oval has never been suitable for endurance sports car racing. It has nothing to do with the oval not producing exciting racing, like the ROVAL was