When looking at the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule, one thing many point to is the amount of standalone races, or lack thereof. The Xfinity Series has only one standalone event at Portland, and the Truck Series has only two standalone events at Milwaukee and Indianapolis Raceway Park (the same weekend as the Brickyard 400). Should there be more standalone race weekends?
The Case For Standalone Races
Standalone races used to be a common occurrence throughout the Truck Series and Xfinity Series schedules. While, yes, there was always a fair share of companion events with the Cup Series, both series spent some weekends traveling to different race tracks around the country. That continued into the 2000s, but, as time has gone on, standalone races have slowly gone away.
As those races go away, it takes away from the uniqueness of the lower-tier series schedule. As opposed to seeing new, interesting venues, the schedule mirrors that of the NASCAR Cup Series. It’s hard to allow the Xfinity or Truck Series to have their own identity if they race the exact same schedule.
Standalone races also allow NASCAR to dip its toes into new markets that were previously untouched by NASCAR as a whole. Tracks like Homestead-Miami, Kentucky, Nashville, Road America, and Iowa hosted Xfinity or Truck Series standalone weekends before hosting the Cup Series. Now, not every track ultimately worked out, but, not every track will work out.
If the Xfinity and Truck Series schedules are just a copy of the Cup Series schedule, that does not happen. There are definitely some detractors, but why would NASCAR go away from running these standalone races?
The Case Against Standalone Races
While standalone races make for an interesting schedule for the lower series, it also creates a logistical headache for NASCAR and its partners. If the Cup Series is at one venue, but Xfinity and Trucks is at another venue, that means they have to split resources. NASCAR has to send different officials to different events, the TV companies have to send different broadcast crews to different events.
If everything is at one venue, then NASCAR and the TV companies can just keep the same crew at the venue for two races. On top of that, it gives the fans at the track more racing to watch during the weekend. Instead of just a Cup Series race on Sunday, there are one or two extra races to watch.
You can come to a venue and see the Cup Series cars qualify in the morning, then you can stay for a bit to watch a NASCAR National Touring Series race. It makes for a fun weekend at the race track, and it gives fans more racing to watch. It may be tougher to sell to the viewer at home, but at the track, it is easy to see why there are so many companion races.
Now, not a lot of people attend Truck Series or Xfinity Series races, but, it still is an easier sell than a qualifying day with nothing else. That is why standalone races are happening less and less as time goes on.
We took some time earlier this year to look at which venues could host a standalone Xfinity or Truck Series race weekend. There are plenty of venues that could host an Xfinity or Truck Series race, but, it seems it is becoming less and less common.
It seems that NASCAR is starting to do away with some of these standalone weekends, at least for now. Maybe at some point, they could go back to having more on the schedule, but, recent trends say otherwise. Will NASCAR ever go back to more standalone weekends for the Xfinity Series and Truck Series?