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Should there be a Road Course in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs? Which Ones?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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The Charlotte Roval’s future is uncertain, and it poses a rather interesting question. If the Charlotte Roval does not remain on the Cup Series schedule, then is there even a point to there being a road course race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Even then, if NASCAR decides to keep a road course race in the Playoffs, where could they go during that time of year?

Should there be a Road Course Race in the Playoffs?

The bigger question here is the balance between entertainment and competition fairness. From a pure entertainment standpoint, putting a road course in the Playoffs could be seen as not beneficial. The bottom line is that the road course racing product is not as good as it was with the previous generation of cars.

However, it is not all bad. Not every single road course race with the Next-Gen car has been completely awful, but, they are more hit-and-miss than the Gen-6 races were.

However, from a competition fairness standpoint, putting a road course in the Playoffs makes a lot of sense. Out of the 26 regular season races, four of them are on road courses with one on a street course. It’s a big part of the NASCAR schedule, and it will continue to be a big part of it as time goes on. Therefore, giving it representation in the Playoffs makes sense in terms of competition fairness.

Again, striking that balance between the fairness of a sport and entertainment is a tough balance, and a lot of NASCAR fans feel that NASCAR has swayed too far one way or the other in recent years. However, that is truly what this decision comes down to whether fans like it or not. Will NASCAR decide to go in the direction of entertainment or fairness? However, if NASCAR does keep a road course in the Playoffs, where could they go and when could it be held?

When Could NASCAR Fit a Road Course Into the Playoffs?

As far as the when goes, we have to think about the road courses NASCAR goes to and the Playoff schedule in general. Is it really a good idea for a road course race to be in the same round as Talladega given the fact that both track types are major wild cards? Is it worthwhile to put a wild card in the Round of 8 heading into the Championship 4?

All of these questions are fair questions, but, it all depends on what race tracks NASCAR could go to. Let’s take a look at other road courses on the schedule aside from the Roval, and where they could fit in on the schedule.

Circuit of the Americas

Circuit of the Americas simply could not happen for the main reason that Formula One has the U.S. Grand Prix scheduled for October 18-20, 2024. The Round of 8 is off the table, and so is likely the Round of 12 because of that. The Round of 16 is likely out because of Texas weather in September. Aside from that, the track website already says that the NASCAR race is scheduled for spring 2024.

Sonoma Raceway

Sonoma could work out because of the time of year. A race could be held there in either September or October during the Playoffs as the weather is good there throughout the end of the season. IndyCar even used to hold its season finale there, but Sonoma would have to reshuffle the schedule to make it happen.

Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen currently sits in late August on the calendar, so, NASCAR could choose to push the race back a few weeks on the calendar to get it into the Round of 16. However, it likely has to be in the Round of 16 because the weather gets cooler the later into the fall you go at Watkins Glen. Given its current calendar placement, this is probably the easiest option.

With the Indianapolis road course likely off the schedule and the Chicago Street Race contractually obligated to run in the summer, these are the only options NASCAR likely has from the current array of road courses. They have options, but will they take them?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts