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Fans Debate: What is NASCAR’s Most Over-Hyped Track?

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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With NASCAR’s return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway “oval” rumored for next year, many fans of the sport have begged the question as to why NASCAR ever ditched it in favor of the “roval” configuration in the first place. Well, to put it simply, the rules package NASCAR was running at the time of the oval’s demise wasn’t compatible with the track’s layout. Really, when you think about it, that package wasn’t compatible with any intermediate layout.

With this NextGen car seemingly improving the intermediate package, many fans were very outspoken about the fact that they wanted to see NASCAR return to the oval at Indy. The drivers want it, too, many of them viewing the Brickyard 400 as a prestigious Crown Jewel over the current 200 miles on the road course layout. Heck, even Denny Hamlin went as far as to say on his podcast, Actions Detrimental that it doesn’t even matter if they bring the oval layout back and it stinks up the joint. The prestige of that historic facility is enough to cement it permanently on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule in the eyes of many drivers.

But while the drivers appear to be singing in unison on this issue, NASCAR fans are rather split in many different ways. Some, like the drivers, want to see the oval return permanently. Others want to see the roval and the oval rotate. Others would rather forego the Indianapolis Motor Speedway altogether and take the show across town to the bullring known as IRP.

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With this discussion about the return of the Indy Oval, it accidentally sparked a separate discussion about what is the most overhyped racetrack on the NASCAR circuit. Many fans point to the Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway simply because it’s not as big of an event as the Indy 500. Other NASCAR fans, specifically on Reddit pointed elsewhere. Let’s talk about some of them.

Pheonix Raceway

Everyday_Struggle (man, I feel that screen name!) suggests that Phoenix is perhaps the most over-hyped track on the schedule.

Phoenix being the home of the championship finale, it’s bound to receive some scrutiny as being “over-hyped”. It drives like a short track and, while many love those types of tracks, certain drivers and teams are good on them while others tend to struggle.

Jmoney-56 and reedspacer38 have similar gripes, wishing that the track had never been reconfigured. I’m there with you, guys.

UsedToHaveThisName says that it’s the only race they will be okay either skipping or ignoring as it plays on in the background while they do the mundane chores that unfortunately come with adulthood. The fact that anyone would say that about what is supposed to be the penultimate race of the season is a major problem.

Sonoma Raceway

It is a difficult-to-pass road course, no matter which layout NASCAR uses and, let’s be real, the only reason NASCAR even races there is to make up for the fact that Riverside is now a shopping mall. There’s also an argument to be had that NASCAR stockcars aren’t very compatible with the brand of tight corners racing this track promotes.

3mileshigh points out that the scenery of Sonoma in June is rather unsavory. Sonoma is a beautiful part of our country in the right season. But, by the time NASCAR comes to town in June, all the grass, flowers, and general color of the place is dead and gray. Reachforthetop9 suggests that moving the west coast swing could breathe some fresh air into this track and I think there’s a good argument to be had there, as well. I’d personally love to see Sonoma included in that and get a date in March.

Calling back to what I said earlier, Vulptereen327 wishes that Sonoma was more like that old Riverside track with higher speeds. BoxesFullOfLemons claps back with a petition to turn Sonoma into a Riverside 2.0.

Other comments include praise for Walkins Glen as many believe it to be the superior road course to Sonoma.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indy is a hot topic right now among fans with many begging for a return to the oval and others hoping that it never happens. Nobody should be surprised to see it pop up on this list.

When the first Brickyard 400 was held in 1994, it was a BIG deal. IMS is seen by many as the biggest, most famous, most historic race track in the world and certainly in the United States. The fact that NASCAR, in the middle of the boom period, was invited to race on the prestigious surface that greats like A. J. Foyt and Mario Andretti became legends on was a huge honor. And in those first handful of races, the prestige of the Brickyard 400 remained high.

Over time, though, it lost its shine. The races started to become “boring” to many fans and while NASCAR was chasing a package that would end up racing like INDYCAR there, they ended up going in the wrong direction and things got worse. Grandstands started to look empty and too big. Viewership dropped off.

In the 90s, the Brickyard 400 was special because it was one of only two races (the Indy 500 being the other) to be held at the track during the calendar year. Then F1 came. They put the Xfinity cars on the track rather than keeping them at IRP. INDYCAR started running the road course. And all of a sudden, there was a lot of action there which seemed to have watered it down a bit. It wasn’t special anymore and the racing wasn’t good enough to keep the changing fan’s interest.

The Brickyard 400 is never going to be the Indy 500. Now, let’s see what some fans on Reddit have to say.

reedspacer38 suggests that the Indy Oval is over-hyped. They point at the diverse entry list for the Indy road course as merit to that track’s layout and speculate that NASCAR won’t get anywhere near that kind of talent once they take the show back to the oval. The days of 53 cars showing up to try to qualify for the Brickyard 400 are long dead.

Dman6233 echoes my points that the Brickyard 400 will never be as prestigious as the Indy 500. That’s true and certainly, a hurtle NASCAR has been trying to get over for decades.

Vulptereen327 brings up the train of thought that NASCAR should just forego the big Indy track altogether and take the show down the road to IRP. A couple of fans are in agreement with that way of thinking.

North Wilkesboro

For a lot of fans, North Wilkesboro did not live up to the hype this year. Fans were bummed when it was removed from the schedule back in ’97 in favor of the hated Texas Motor Speedway and, with many modern fans’ tastes running more towards road courses and short tracks, 2023 seemed like the perfect year to bring it back. The Truck race on Saturday was phenomenal. The All-Star race, not so much. The only time actual good racing happened was during the heats on wet tires. The rest of the time, the abrasive surface of the track chewed up tires and it was impossible to pass. It didn’t help that Kyle Larson absolutely blistered the rest of the field…even more than the track surface blistered the tires.

Skimfrosty points out that it was a great event but because the racing was less-than-stellar, the general consensus is that it was a failed experiment.

What do you think, NASCAR fans and Daily Downforce readers? What are some of your picks for the most overrated tracks? Let us know and keep it right here for all your latest stories in the world of NASCAR.

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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