Do you hear that? It’s the roar of folks giving NASCAR a standing ovation for the amount of ideas that are coming out of their Charlotte and Daytona offices as of late. While some people want the sport to be more like your granddaddy’s NASCAR, the reality of it is, if this sport is going to grow, they’ve got to be innovative.
NASCAR is doing just that.
Doubleheaders? Weeknight races? All-Star race away from Charlotte? A schedule shake up? A new car? A dirt race? A ROVAL? Racing in the…rain?
NASCAR has either done all or trying to accomplish each soon. Some of these, we can actually thank COVID for. See, prior to COVID, there were long rumors of each happening. It’s just that, some never did.
We had the same 36 races in the same 36 spots on the schedule with radical ideas being tossed about but never having the stones to actually get implemented. Well, COVID forced some things to happen and I’ll applaud NASCAR for having the forth sight to try them out.
Last year to get things going again during COVID, NASCAR had to stay in the southeast. The plan was to run one day shows as close to base as possible in order to get drivers and team in and out without transmission.
That sparked weeknight races. It was finally tried out for once. The numbers weren’t great, but hey, they finally tried it. Doubleheaders? It worked well enough for Pocono to come back again for 2021 in that format. More races down south? Darlington and Atlanta get second dates again. The All-Star race was moved last year to Bristol as a weeknight race and this year it’s going to Texas. A choose cone? It was tried out and brought back too.
That schedule that we used to know was completely torn up, shredded and put out of its misery. COTA, Road America and Nashville joined it for the first time this year. The Brickyard was moved to the road course. Bristol’s spring race was put on dirt.
NASCAR is doing everything they can to listen and adapt.
Bristol Dirt went off better than I expected this past week. While mother nature didn’t help, NASCAR and Bristol each proved that with the right amount of adjustments in some key areas, that this race can have a future.
Now, they’re testing a wet track. Yes, you read that right, a wet track. Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher tested cars at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway on Thursday as NASCAR conducted a test in the wet. A truck watered down the .526-mile paperclip, then NASCAR turned them loose to try out rain tires.
Normally, rain tires are only used on road courses, but they’re open to trying this out again. See, in 1995, they tested this before here. 26 years later, we still don’t have wet tires for an oval. With how things are trending, I don’t think we’ll have to be in this spot still 26 years down the road again.
While NASCAR isn’t saying lets go out and race in the rain, what they are saying is, if the track is damp, can we race on it?
NASCAR won’t race on a road course if there’s standing water, so after it rains, they can get the track dried quicker so long as they don’t have to have it completely dried off. They can do a few sweeps with Titans and jet dryers then turn the cars loose again.
By doing this, is significantly decreased the red flag time for track drying activities. If you can get a tire that will race on a damp track, it helps — hence this test.
While I don’t ever foresee a wet tire being used on a large banked track, tracks 1 mile in length and shorter can probably pull this off.
Plus, this pulls a strategy play. The track will dry even faster with 40 cars weighing 3,400 pounds each circling it at speed. So, as it dries out, who times the move to slicks the best?
This week has proven that NASCAR is trying. They’re doing everything that they can to think outside the box and no stone is being left unturned. Kudos to them for all of this.