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The Clash at Bowman Gray Stadium: How Would It Work?

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What’s Happening?

On Monday, Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic reported that Bowman Gray Stadium is expected to host the season-opening Clash in 2025. This is not unexpected news, but it does raise the question of how the event could work. Bowman Gray is much different than the LA Coliseum, so how would the event work?

  • Bowman Gray Stadium was built in 1937 as a football stadium, but a race track was paved around the football field in 1947. Soon afterward, NASCAR began racing there, with the Cup Series competing at the venue from 1958 through 1971. The Cup Series held as many as three races in one season at the track.
  • Bowman Gray left the schedule when NASCAR entered the “Modern Era,” but the track still goes strong today. From NASCAR Regional Touring Series events to local short-track series, Bowman Gray Stadium is a popular summertime attraction for the citizens of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  • Fans are intrigued by the prospect of Bowman Gray Stadium coming back to NASCAR. However, is it the right place for the Clash?

The Clash at Bowman Gray vs the Clash in LA

Bowman Gray Stadium and the LA Coliseum are the same length as a race track, 1/4 mile. Therefore, the event can be largely the same as at the LA Coliseum. The field has to be smaller to accommodate the smaller track size, and the starting lineup can be determined by heat races and last-chance qualifiers, both of which follow practice and time trials.

It seems easy enough, but a couple of factors make Bowman Gray slightly different. First is the design of the facility’s layout.

Bowman Gray has a grass infield, unlike the LA Coliseum, where asphalt was poured over the football field before the track was dug up again. That infield acted as the “Pit road” during the halftime break. Depending on how protective Bowman Gray Stadium is of the football field, that option might not be open. The actual Bowman Gray garage/pit road is outside the track, just like the LA Coliseum.

NASCAR could easily circumvent this by having drivers park along the inside lane of the track or even side-by-side on one of the straightaways. This would be a welcome move as it allows fans to see some of the action between segments, such as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. confronting John Hunter Nemechek at this year’s Clash.

Another factor is the time of year and the weather. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has an average daily high of 53°F and an average low of 33°F in February. The Clash will likely take place on the first weekend of February 2024.

Cold weather is uncomfortable for fans and can impact the race. The 2022 spring race at Martinsville was notorious for being difficult to pass, and, aside from the Next-Gen car and hard tires, the cold weather prevented rubber from being laid down on the track, making it difficult to pass.

Granted, Bowman Gray Stadium is still a one-groove track with no banking, so cold may not affect it that much. However, NASCAR may be incentivized to push up the race time to keep it during the day. Instead of a primetime show, maybe they move up to the late afternoon?

According to timeanddate.com, sunset on February 1st and 2nd, 2024, are set for 5:48 PM and 5:49 PM local time, respectively. For a sprint race of around 150 laps, starting the race at 3:30 or so should allow it to be completed in daylight, but that does mean pushing all of the preliminary events, like heat races, early in the day.

Other sports simply adapt to the cold weather no matter what. Football is often played in temperatures well below zero, with an NFL Playoff game last January between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins being held in -27°F wind chill.

Maybe NASCAR will just accept the temperature and go racing at night. It will be interesting to see how drivers and fans react should this happen.

What do you think about all this? Let us know on Discord or X what your take is, and don’t forget you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube.

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