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How Can They Reconfigure Texas Motor Speedway?

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Joshua Lipowski

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Texas Motor Speedway is not the most popular track on the calendar, and Sunday’s race showed a large reason why. Yes, the race was one of the better ones Texas has put out in recent years, but a single-groove, high-speed track makes passing difficult to impossible. As a result, many are calling for Texas Motor Speedway to be reconfigured, but, into what can it be reconfigured?

Go Back to the Way It Was

This may not be the most innovative solution, but there is good reason to go for this solution. Prior to the repave, Texas Motor Speedway was a pretty ho-hum race track, but it had some good moments. There was a last-lap pass for the win in the spring of 2007, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski battling for the win while fighting for the title in November of 2012, and, of course, the Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski fight in November of 2014.

That combined with the current on-track product of the Next-Gen car at its’ sister track of Charlotte Motor Speedway makes many wonder whether or not going back to the way it was is a good idea. It could be worth doing, but it is also worth noting that the asphalt would need to age significantly before we see the multiple grooves of racing at the track again. It may not have the intended result immediately.

Progressive Banking

If NASCAR wants to keep the same size and shape of the race track, they can choose to progressively bank it similar to a track like Kansas or Homestead-Miami. Kansas Speedway hosted arguably its’ best race ever back in the spring, and the progressive banking is a large reason why. Progressive banking means a track should have multiple grooves from the start or much sooner than aging asphalt would normally allow.

The issue with this would obviously be that it is relatively unoriginal. However, it does suit the track to what the Next-Gen car does well, and that is high-speed, multi-groove race tracks. This would give Texas Motor Speedway a chance to redeem itself with a less radical reconfiguration.

Superspeedway

The option that many are loathing is turning Texas into a mini-superspeedway like Atlanta. Now, it is easy to see why NASCAR and SMI would want to do this as Atlanta has brought in more fans since the reconfiguration. Superspeedway races are also fun to watch, and they bring in many casual viewers.

However, another superspeedway-style race on the schedule would be pushing it to many NASCAR fans. There are already six races of that variety on the schedule, which make up almost 20% of the schedule. One more of these types of races would mean the would be more superspeedway races than road course races and almost as many superspeedway races as short track races. Kyle Busch indicated this past weekend that he is not on board with this move either when he was asked about potentially moving Texas’ race date.

Road Course/Roval

If NASCAR and SMI want to think a bit outside of the box, they could choose to reconfigure the entire complex into a road course. All they would have to do is keep the current front stretch as is to keep the grandstands in place and play around with the infield and the land around it to build a road course or a “Roval”-type of race track. It could work, but there are a few drawbacks to this.

First off, is there the funds to completely redo the layout of the infield or the race track as it is? It would take some major reshuffling for this to happen, and the current road course product should give NASCAR pause as well. This is probably one of the more unlikely scenarios.

Short Track

Auto Club Speedway is reportedly doing it, so, why not Texas Motor Speedway? NASCAR could find a way to do something truly unique with a new short track at Texas. They would have to be strategic with how they do it, however, unless they want to reconfigure the entire grandstands.

However, the short track product would be the biggest detractor to this scenario. Is NASCAR willing to build another short track where it knows the Next-Gen car will struggle to race well? That combined with the absolute upheaval of the current layout this would require should give NASCAR some pause.

Texas Motor Speedway could be changed at some point in the future, but into what? These are a few options, but maybe there is another truly radical option that could be given as well.

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Joshua Lipowski

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