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Should NASCAR Return to the Daytona Road Course?

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What’s Happening?

This weekend is the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, which, for many including myself, marks the start of motorsports season. The race is held on the Daytona Road Course, where NASCAR has raced as recently as 2021. Should NASCAR consider a return to the road course at Daytona International Speedway? We take a look at both sides of this argument.

  • The Daytona International Speedway Road Course has been around since the speedway was built in 1959. The first 24 Hours of Daytona race was held in 1966, and it is one of the crown jewel events of endurance racing alongside 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • NASCAR has held 3 events on a slightly modified version of the Daytona road course. They held regular season races there in 2020 and 2021, and the season-opening Busch Clash was held there in 2021. The NASCAR Road Course included the addition of an extra chicane in the short chute between turn 4 and the tri-oval.
  • Fans generally liked the addition of the Daytona Road Course when it was on the schedule. It allowed for more road course races, but, NASCAR elected to get rid of it for 2022.

Why NASCAR Should Go Back There

The Daytona Road Course is one of the most iconic road courses in the United States, which is odd for a track that is predominantly known for its’ oval layout. Still, it’s a cool race track that fans enjoyed seeing on the schedule while it was there.

Daytona is also known as the “World Center of Racing”, and it is the home of NASCAR’s Corporate Headquarters. Sure, it may mean 3 races in the same location during the regular season, but, what other place could support that type of racing? Daytona could support it.

While the Next-Gen car has had its’ struggles on road courses the Daytona Road Course is unlike any other road course NASCAR races on. There are multiple long strings of full-throttle racing, which end up in hard braking zones. Hard braking zones are typically where most of the passing gets done on road courses. COTA, for example, has multiple hard braking zones, which have created good races with the Next-Gen car despite its issues on road courses.

It’s in an ideal NASCAR location, and it has the potential to be a successful road course even for the Next-Gen car. Why not return to the Daytona Road Course?

Why NASCAR Should Not Go Back There

While the Daytona Road Course is an iconic race track, remember why it was implemented in the first place. This came about during the pandemic, and NASCAR needed more venues to host multiple races to fulfill the 36-race schedule. Daytona was an easy place to go to, and, with Sonoma and Watkins Glen both losing their 2020 races, a road course race filled a gap in the schedule.

The race was kept for 2021 to add another road course to the schedule without having to reach out to another venue. Now, with events at places like COTA and the Streets of Chicago, is there really a place for the Daytona Road Course? All NASCAR is doing in that instance is giving Daytona a third race on the calendar, which keeps a date away from a potentially new market.

It would also go against the very recent trend that NASCAR has had. In 2024, there will be only 5 road course races, down from 6 in 2023 and 7 on the 2021 schedule. While there is a place for road course racing in NASCAR, it’s become slightly less frequent. Some fans have even asked for the Charlotte Roval to be taken off the schedule.

Not to mention the road course product with the Next-Gen car. Sure, there have been good races, but, is it a guarantee that the racing will be good at the Daytona Road Course with the Next-Gen car? There is no guarantee, and if the racing product is bad, then there is no purpose to go there.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the Daytona Road Course may have a purpose in modern NASCAR, and there are reasons to return there. However, it came to the sport for a very specific purpose, and, now that the pandemic is behind us and there are more road courses on the calendar, why go back there? Do you feel NASCAR should go back to the Daytona Road Course?

Let us know what you think

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Joshua Lipowski

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