As the Next Gen era continues to bring a revitalized sense of “new” to NASCAR, President Steve Phelps emphasized earlier this week that the commitment to fresh ideas is here to stay.
Phelps highlighted a focus on remaining inventive with the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, highlighted by the return of The Clash to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2023, which was announced Sunday.
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“We’re going to be bold and innovative,” Phelps said Thursday in San Francisco. “I think we’ve done that, whether you’re talking about scheduling innovation, think about going to the LA Coliseum and running an exhibition race. The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. We never would have done that, right?
“First time any of us heard that, they brought it to me, I’m like, ‘Can we do that?’ It was important. So we’re going to be bold. We’re going to be innovative. We’re going to keep mashing the gas, if you will. That’s been the success of NASCAR over the last two-and-a-half years, is doing things that are unexpected, going to places that are unexpected.”
Dating back to the 2020 season, NASCAR’s premier series has raced on eight tracks that featured either new configurations (Bristol Dirt, Indianapolis and Daytona road courses) or entirely new venues (Circuit of The Americas, Road America, Nashville, LA Coliseum, World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway).
Taking those risks, Phelps said, is what he hopes NASCAR will be known for.
“We want to get to a point where people are actually saying, ‘Well, that’s actually what I would expect from NASCAR,’ as opposed to just sitting back and (saying), ‘Hey, we’re running a race here, it’s great,’ ” Phelps said.
Fresh venues produce exhilarating racing, with notable story lines stemming from last weekend’s inaugural race at Gateway. The Cup schedule for 2023 has yet to be announced, but the philosophy remains the same: keep it fresh.
“We’re really excited (about) what the future holds,” Phelps said. “I think more schedule innovation is in our future. What that looks like, I don’t know. But we’re poised to be able to continue the success we’ve had for our media partners, our sponsors, and most importantly from our fans.
“The winners in all of this, frankly, have been the fans. It’s really just this terrific racing that these guys are putting on with the Next Gen car.”