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NASCAR Mailbox: Could We Ever See a Great Rivalry in the Sport Again?

Road course racing in NASCAR has provided some of the most exciting races in the last several years, with many fans and drivers advocating for more of these races to be added to the schedule.

Would adding a street course or more road courses be beneficial to the sport? Is a street course something that could realistically be part of the sport in the future?

More on that in a moment …

Let’s talk rivalries. Rivalries have fueled NASCAR’s popularity for years. However, throughout the last several years, it seems as though a true rivalry has been lacking. Whether it was Petty vs. Pearson back in the 1970s, or Gordon vs. Earnhardt in the 1990s, these rivalries added to the popularity of the sport in their time.

Will we ever see a similar rivalry now or in the future? If so, which drivers are the most likely candidates to take on this role?

Q: Which do you want to see more of in NASCAR, road courses or street courses? Sean F., Greensboro, NC

A: I would be fine with seeing either more road courses or a street course or two on the schedule in the future. There really is no preference as long as we see more road racing. While some fans prefer one over the other, road racing is extremely popular.

There have been rumors of NASCAR possibly heading to street courses in the future, possibly to an overseas location. That would be absolutely huge for the sport but would most likely not happen for another few years, if at all.

Other than IndyCar, IMSA is the most popular American road racing series, and there is definitely a ton of star power and a lot of entertaining racing that takes place in that series. They race on both regular road courses and some street courses such as Belle Isle and Long Beach. We see how great IndyCar’s road racing is, whether it is a regular road course or a street circuit.

Street circuits in NASCAR would definitely be intriguing and an experiment that would be worth trying out. To start out, maybe an exhibition race would be optimal, but I would expect it to be successful.

NASCAR has already added new tracks to the schedule in the Truck and Xfinity series in the last four years with Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Mid-Ohio, two of a handful of road courses that provide some of the best racing on the schedule. There are many more road course and street course options NASCAR could choose from.

No matter what NASCAR decides to do, one thing is for certain: some of the best racing on the NASCAR circuit occurs on road courses, no matter what series it is. Adding more of them to the schedule would improve the overall quality of the season.

Q: Do you think we will ever see another great rivalry in the sport like we used to see with Petty vs. Pearson or Gordon vs. Earnhardt? If so, who can be even close to that in today’s NASCAR? Daniel R., Knoxville, TN

A: Rivalries are great for any sports. It gives us one more reason to watch and to see two great athletes or teams (depending on the sport) go head to head with one another. We used to see this quite frequently in NASCAR, but it seems we’ve been lacking the sort of star-powered rivalries of yesteryear.

There have definitely been drivers who have had feuds that lasted a few weeks, like Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin back in 2017, and Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano last season. However, from what I have seen, Kyle Busch vs. Brad Keselowski has been a big and constant mini-rivalry that has persisted (though certainly not to the same degree as Petty/Pearson and Earnhardt/Gordon).

Go back to 2010 when it all started, when Busch wrecked Keselowski during an Xfinity race at Bristol for the win. Keselowski was obviously not pleased and during driver intros the next day for the Cup Series race, Keselowski came out and said over the PA system, “Kyle Busch is an a**!”

Now from that point on, we thought maybe we would see something develop and over the next few years, Keselowski had run-ins with multiple drivers, including a few with Busch. However, nothing significant has really transpired. They have had their battles and have voiced their opinions about one another, but nothing serious has developed at all.

So will we ever see another great rivalry in the sport? I think it’s possible. The drivers who ultimately carry out that rivalry may be the two we least expect.

Now if I had to guess, Kyle Busch will be involved in any budding rivalry, due to his attitude and aggression level. But we’ll have to wait and find out.

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About Brandon Hauff

Brandon Hauff
Brandon is a 22-year-old from NY and has been a passionate follower of motorsports for 14 years now. He recently graduated from Molloy College on Long Island with a BA in Communications. Working within NASCAR has been a dream for Brandon for a while, and he hopes to be able to live out the dream in the very near future.

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2 comments

  1. Avatar

    As someone who’s participated as a Trans-Am crew member, at a number of temporary street circuits (Detroit, St. Pete, the Meadowlands, etc), I don’t know that NASCAR on a street circuit would be such a good idea. The much smaller and lighter open wheel, Trans-Am and sports prototype cars have trouble passing on most street circuits, I think Cup cars would find it nearly impossible to pass.

    On the other hand, NASCAR on a true road course, has proven to be a winner. The Cup race at Watkins Glen and Xfinity at Road America, are easily at the top of the list for the best races for each series. I’d love to see Cup race at Road America, in place of one of the Kansas’ races (or Chicagoland), and a Cup race at COTA, to replace a Texas Speedway race. Personally, I think a second race at The Glen, maybe in place of the boring and under attended race at Indy, would make a lot of sense, though not much of what NASCAR does anymore, seems to make sense.

    How about a race on certain road courses, every other year. Racing at Road Atlanta every other year, in place of one of Atlanta’s oval races (or at Barber instead of Talladega), could add some much needed excitement and diversity to the schedule.

    Finally, how about a trip to a different road course in Europe, every year. Silverstone in Great Britain in 2021, Hockenheim Germany in 2022, Spa Belgium in 2023, Monza Italy in 2024, and so on. Unfortunately the pit roads of most of Europe’s great tracks, aren’t designed to handle 40 cars, but then when NASCAR went to Japan, they limited the number of entrants, so maybe just the top 25 in points are invited.

  2. Avatar

    Because someone does not like to be “raced hard” in today’s climate is not a rivalry by any means. Marty Truex (..one of) I am talking about you! Don’t see one yet that is worthy of the “rivalry” named by standards put forth from the past. Maybe in the future, who knows.