News & Media

Does Nationwide need another road race?

October 10, 2011, ,

NASCAR chairman Brian France made headlines this past weekend when he said the sport was in conversations with officials from Circuit of the Americas, a 3.4-mile road course slated to open next year in Austin, Texas. France was deliberate to say the track would not host a Cup race, but the possibility of a Nationwide event is not out of the equation.

Should another road-course event be added to the Nationwide Series schedule?


If the opportunity arises for the Nationwide Series to race on the Formula 1 track being built in Austin, Texas, NASCAR officials should grab hold and never let go.

Part of what makes the Nationwide Series unique and fun is the standalone weekends, away from the Cup Series and the shadow that it invariably casts on the Nationwide garage. Sure, there are already road races at Road America, Watkins Glen and Montreal -- hopefully Montreal will still be on the 2012 schedule -- but the Nationwide Series needs more things to make it unique, not fewer.

This track would give the Nationwide Series another race in Texas, just three hours south of Texas Motor Speedway. The Nationwide race at Texas in April drew 77,200 fans, according to NASCAR. That's fewer than just three other races: both Bristols and the season-opening race at Daytona. Fans in Texas [i]love[/i] their racing, and spreading the love down to Austin is a win-win situation.

Also, the numbers for the other three road races? They had 40,000 fans at Watkins Glen, 50,000 at Road America and 70,000 at Montreal. Those are big numbers for the Nationwide Series, and adding a road course to that area of the country is sheer genius.

What better time to try to master new road courses than when you're in the Nationwide Series and presumably preparing for an eventual career in Cup? Consider it a large part of the pre-Cup curriculum. This is a perfect marriage of desire and opportunity.

Jill Erwin, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

I am a road-race fan, have been for years. But does the Nationwide Series need another standalone road race, this time in Texas? The answer is no.

The Nationwide Series already races more road courses than any other national series. The Cup Series has two (Sonoma, Watkins Glen) and the Truck Series avoids road courses altogether. But the Nationwide Series has standalone events at Road America and Montreal, and joins the Cup Series at Watkins Glen. Why in the world do we need another road-course race?

We don't -- especially in the Nationwide Series, where this year's road-course events left much to be desired.

Road America was a caution-filled debacle with the longest green-flag run just 18 laps. Watkins Glen was dominated by Cup veterans, while the Nationwide title contenders just tried to survive. And Montreal was another caution-filled spectacle with 14 of the final 32 laps run under yellow. The average number of DNFs in the three Nationwide road events this season was 14. That's atrocious.

Road races are fun and entertaining, but let's be honest ... it's not good racing. And that's what the Nationwide Series needs right now -- good racing. The series isn't going to get it at a standalone road course event.

I understand there are holes in the schedule, but putting races in just to fill a void isn't the right reason to add them. It has to make sense, and more road courses on the Nationwide schedule simply doesn't.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Currently, the Nationwide Series runs on three road courses, two of which -- Road America and Montreal -- are standalone events. The question is: Does the series need a fourth road-course event? Bill Kimm and Jill Erwin are firm in their thoughts. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below.

Video Highlights: Road America | Watkins Glen | Montreal

Related: France: NASCAR would consider race on F1 layout