Before the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race weekend began at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a major story broke that became a focal point of the weekend.
NASCAR indefinitely suspended Tyler Dippel on Aug. 23, but the reason for his suspension was broad, and we were left to wonder what occurred. After a few days attempting to sift through the rumors and the muck, the details and cause for his suspension were released. Now that we know what transpired, his future is NASCAR is uncertain.
Elsewhere, packed grandstands for the NTT IndyCar Series at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway left one reader wondering why neither the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup or Xfinity series races there.
Q: How should NASCAR handle the Tyler Dippel situation? Dennis B., Kalamazoo, MI
Do not expect Dippel to return behind the wheel of the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet this season. His court date on Wednesday, Aug. 28 will help determine his future in NASCAR. He and Young’s Motorsports have been cooperative with NASCAR and the authorities. His continued cooperation coupled with remorse for Dippel, who has yet to publicly say anything, could potentially hasten his return to NASCAR. However, Dippel was charged with a class A misdemeanor in New York. That can mean up to 12 months of jail time.
NASCAR suspended Dippel based off this incident and an incident in Virginia in March. Furthermore, he was reportedly caught excessively speeding, which led to this charge. Therefore, Dippel first needs to get his personal life straightened out. Will the state of New York attempt to prosecute him with jail time? We shall see.
As the legal proceedings run their due course, Dippel will stay rightfully suspended by NASCAR, allowing him to get his life straightened out, seek help if needed, etc.
The outcome of this case will affect how the sanctioning body deals with this situation. If Dippel faces jail time, then his future in NASCAR is questionable at best. However, if he and the authorities work out a deal, NASCAR should be willing to offer him a second chance. If Dippel does not serve jail time, NASCAR should require him to complete the Road to Recovery program for substance abuse. Even if he did not fail a drug test, he was arrested with criminal possession of a controlled substance.
If Dippel completes the Road to Recovery, NASCAR should allow him to return to racing with a stern warning. One more arrest, a failed drug test, etc., and his NASCAR career is over.
Now, if Dippel can return to racing, what is his future? The timetable for this case will sort that out. Will Young’s Motorsports keep him as its driver? Back to the current struggle for drivers, sponsorship will contribute to that answer. But if Dippel cannot race for an extended length of time, the organization likely will be forced to move on. The team has been trying to build its program up, and waiting on Dippel to return may not be an option.
Although he is only 19 years old, Dippel has an uncertain future in NASCAR, and at minimum, a journey to undergo to return to racing. When I spoke to him at Michigan International Speedway, he was hopeful to return to the Truck Series with Young’s Motorsports. Now, he has bigger issues to deal with. NASCAR is a sport, whereas this situation is a legal matter. NASCAR will cede to the discretion of the authorities.
Q: The stands were full for the IndyCar race at Gateway. Why doesn’t either the Cup Series or Xfinity Series go there? The Truck Series usually puts on a great show there. Henry E., Lansing, IL
Yes, the stands there were full for the IndyCar race.
.@WWTRaceway brought out a crowd of more than 42,000 people for last night's NTT IndyCar Series @BommaritoAuto 500, the biggest for the race since it returned to the schedule in 2017. pic.twitter.com/yKTKW63eBo
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) August 25, 2019
While I was not able to watch it live, the race had a great finish, and I noticed several people talking about the full stands on my social media channels. That is great to hear for IndyCar. And I agree that the Truck Series usually has an exciting race there.
To reiterate, the 2020 NASCAR schedules are set. So only the Truck Series will race at Gateway next year.
However, you are right that NASCAR should send either the Cup or Xfinity series there. The track is 1.25-miles, but it is a welcome change of pace from the many 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule. Some Truck Series drivers downshift in turns 3 and 4, and its long straightaways are unique for short track racing.
With NASCAR Heat 4 offering the opportunity for people to create custom schedules, people can race the Cup or Xfinity series at Gateway. This may increase calls for both series to go there.
The IndyCar stands were full and hopefully NASCAR took notice. Because meanwhile, ticket sales for the Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are pathetic.
Brickyard 400 ticket sales are just over 13,000 for the race in 16 days
— Tony Donohue (@tonydindy) August 23, 2019
NASCAR continues trying to make a round peg fit into a square hole here, and it is not working. The immense number of empty seats will be a source of criticism for the sport when the storyline from the race weekend should be on the race itself, the last of the regular season
Back to the matter at hand, though, NASCAR needs to consider running another series to Gateway. Per Adam Stern, NASCAR is contemplating adding it to the schedule in 2021.
.@WWTRaceway is open to hosting a NASCAR Cup Series race as soon as 2021, and the strong IndyCar crowd on Saturday will give NASCAR execs more evidence the track can do so.
➖ Ticket sales for the track's main grandstand finished up around 35% from last year. pic.twitter.com/GmLe8PnUAz
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) August 26, 2019
Playing devil’s advocate with your question, do we want Cup Series stars racing at Gateway? The last two Truck Series winners there have been Justin Haley and Ross Chastain. If NASCAR adds the Cup Series to the race weekend, would Kyle Busch or another Cup Series driver compete in the Truck Series race to gain some track time? A win by a Cup Series driver in the Truck Series race could take away from how we perceive the Truck Series’ race there.
There is nothing wrong with standalone races. The Eldora Dirt Derby is special because only the Truck Series races there. Likewise, rarely do Cup Series drivers compete in the Xfinity Series races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America, and so we believe those tracks produce great races because we get to see series regulars going to victory lane.
At minimum, the Xfinity Series should leave Indianapolis Motor Speedway and instead race at Gateway.