The NASCAR Xfinity Series is off this weekend as NASCAR stays within the Commonwealth of Virginia and races at Richmond Raceway.
That’s a shame.
Last week, the series raced at Martinsville Speedway, albeit delayed due to a weather postponement. What transpired was vintage short-track racing. You had a short-track ace, Josh Berry, in one of the best feel-good stories in NASCAR so far this year, making good on car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. sticking his neck out for him. Even after the race ended, you had a good old-fashioned short-track infield fracas with Joe Graf Jr. and Gray Gaulding going at it.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) April 11, 2021
And what’s a short-track dust-up without a war of words?
— Daniel McFadin (@danielmcfadin) April 11, 2021
Short tempers and short track racing. That’s what would be likely on the way again in some form this week with Richmond, another track known over its history for some roughhousing on the tracks and in the pits.
Instead, the drivers and teams in NASCAR’s No. 2 series get a second weekend off in a short time window. Last weekend’s race at Martinsville, oddly enough, was the series’ only scheduled event in a span of more than a month in between Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 20 and Talladega Superspeedway on April 24.
The series won’t have another off weekend until July 24, in between New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen International. While there is no doubt that families of crew members that work exclusively with Xfinity teams will enjoy a week at home this weekend, it’s not exactly the best thing in the world for the series.
The cost should not be an issue in this situation. If it’s viable for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams to travel to Richmond, there’s no reason that the Xfinity Series cannot. Concerns about having to run a race on Friday should not be a concern, either. As the team at Atlanta has proven, a Truck/Xfinity doubleheader is a win-win for the fans and frankly, something more tracks should consider doing.
Last Sunday (April 11) served up a couple of slices of momentum that would have made the Xfinity Series even more talked about around the virtual water coolers. Could Berry pull off another short track win? Would ex-teammates Gaulding and Graf provide a must-watch battle to watch outside the likely top-10 contenders? Who would Noah Gragson feud with during or after the race in the closed quarters of Richmond’s surface?
Sadly, due to another respite, we won’t get any answers to those questions as fans and followers of the series.
Instead, it will be a hurry-up-and-wait until next weekend when the series goes to Talladega, where the short-track mentality of beating and banging lap-after-lap goes straight out the window.
After racing at Dover International Speedway and Darlington Raceway to begin May, the Xfinity Series won’t race at an oval shorter than 1.5-miles in length until July 17 at New Hampshire.
That’s a level of spectacle and excitement that fans crave. When it comes time to set the 2022 Xfinity Series season, it should be addressed.
NASCAR owes it to the fans, drivers and teams for the sake of the health of the series.