Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Should the Chase Get a Road Course?

1. Watkins Glen International sold out for a second-straight year. Does that prove that good racing will bring fans out to the track, or is this a unique circumstance?

Mark Howell, Senior Writer: These two factors are directly connected; Watkins Glen is inherently good racing. Being from that part of the country, I can say that the Glen is near-and-dear to the hearts of many, not only for the track’s role in the history of motorsports, but also for its ongoing commitment to providing teams (and fans) with the best facility possible. Watkins Glen is truly one of the bright spots on the NASCAR calendar.

Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer: It proves that fans will come out to see good racing. The competitiveness of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars at Watkins Glen has been building over the last few years, and the track has been rewarded with the two sellouts.

Aaron Bearden, Assistant Editor: The great racing has certainly played a role in the Glen’s success. However, the festival-style atmosphere, affordable tickets and camping should also be noted as factors for the track’s success. Regardless, it’s good to see WGI get these numbers right now.

Kevin Rutherford, Managing Editor: It’s a road course. People dig road courses — kind of always have, but that’s gotten even more prevalent in recent years as the backlash against mile-and-a-half tracks rises. It’s not at all surprising that the track is selling out its tickets, nor that people want to come. It’s a break from what can often be construed as monotony. You’d probably see the same even if the racing was subpar there every so often.

2. Should a road course be placed into the Chase? If so, which track would make the most sense? 

Wolfe: A road course definitely belongs in the Chase.  Drivers are accustomed to running on road courses now, so it’s not really a big adjustment for them. Some of the best action takes place there. How about instead of running on the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,  the series runs on the road course there? Make it the opening race of the Chase to keep the prestige and importance of racing there. And it would also give attention to the drivers in Indianapolis, where people love good racing. Also, the weather there is not an issue into September. Indy could just switch dates with Chicagoland Speedway.

Rutherford: Eh, sure. I could take one or leave one in the Chase, but I can’t think of a bona fide reason not to add one, whereas there are definite pros to their addition. Stick Watkins Glen in there; it’s the better of the two.

Bearden: The Chase deserves a road course. It would add an extra layer of challenger the field and an extra layer of excitement for the fans. Most road courses would have things to work around — eating, garage requirements or otherwise — but NASCAR money could go a long way toward accomplishing that. I’d love to see a Cup race at Road America, with alternative options at Mid-Ohio, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Circuit of the Americas.

Howell: A road course should definitely be included as a Chase event. Of the two currently on the schedule, my guess is that Sonoma Raceway would, weather-wise, be the better choice. Teams are already out West to run Phoenix International Raceway, so adding a side trip to Wine Country would be a fairly easy option.

3. Kyle Larson hinted at payback for AJ Allmendinger after contact between the two sent Larson into the pit wall and well behind Jamie McMurray for what could be the Chase bubble. Were his words just empty threats, or should Allmendinger be worried? 

Bearden: AJ Allmendinger’s safe for now. However, if Kyle Larson drops out of the Chase, Allmendinger might want to be on the lookout. Larson hasn’t really had this sort of scuffle before, so it’s difficult to get a read on him, but his old-school racing style makes me think he could pay Allmendinger back should proper circumstance arise.

Wolfe: Allmendinger should be worried. Larson went from within six points of the next spot in the Chase to 30 points away. He’s got good reason to be mad, whether Allmendinger did it on purpose or not. If Allmendinger sits between Larson and a spot that would help Larson’s Chase chances, then, yes, he should absolutely be worried.

Rutherford: Empty threats. I’m not saying Larson doesn’t have cojones, I just don’t think he’s going to risk anything this close to the Chase. If Allmendinger gets anything coming to him, it’ll come way later in the season or in, say, the XFINITY Series.

Howell: Larson should be leaning on the panic button right now. His chances for making the post-season seem to be slipping away, even without the debacle at Watkins Glen. Anyone threatening to keep Larson from a good finish should be worried, including Allmendinger.

4. NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell hinted on SiriusXM that excessive celebrations that tear up cars may be subject to penalty in upcoming rule changes. Is that the correct move, or should drivers be allowed to celebrate as they please? 

Rutherford: I’d rather let the teams and drivers go hog wild after a race — do whatever the heck you want, as long as your owner doesn’t mind possibly paying for whatever you damage. But it’s also very hard to deny that cheating teams could benefit from broken this or that. It’s a tough call.

Howell: Victory celebrations that result in bent sheet metal or overall screwed-up aerodynamics should be policed more seriously. The same goes for the burnouts that inflict engine damage. If a driver wants to celebrate his or her win, they can think of more creative/less cliched ways to let off steam. I’m all for Big Brother NASCAR keeping it real.

Bearden: Celebration rules are necessary, solely because teams can use them to damage/alter cars before post-race inspection. The fans deserve a show, and the drivers can absolutely provide that, but they still need to be held accountable for any illegal moves they might try to cover up.

Wolfe: NASCAR needs to do something about the excessive celebrations. When Pocono Raceway’s event was red-flagged, Tony Stewart mentioned on the radio about how many drivers were swerving to reset the rear ends of their cars, saying it was “the usual suspects.” NASCAR crew chiefs and some drivers are experts at skirting the rules. Any celebration that leads to flat tires or one where the car hits the wall should be outlawed, or there will be a penalty.

About the author


Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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Certain babies can’t handle “THE CHASE” as it is, put a road coarse in…not good. Talking temper tantrums not the track people. Look at the fantastic Marty T. whopping 4 time winner in 13 years….gets out of line Brad held his line, he shoots back up and he causes his own problems, as he always does..but crickets on that. And Brad, stop being so nice, they are not nice to you…don’t do it. They don’t deserve it.

Nope seeing the temper tantrum he pulled and his crew chief pulled, (as usual) and seeing the display of entitlement and never a “racing deal” attitude when it is someone else…which this truly was because of Marty’s loss of car control.

Hell no, no road course! I see somebodies house torched by these loons. According to them, no racing deal ever happens…of course only if they do it. Hypocrites. Marty had shades of this last year, but he is a full blown whiner this year with his Red Hat Club gals. And I mean no offense to the true Red Hat Club.
Marty has shot himself in the foot more often than not, this also was one of those times.


I love how everyone is jumping on the “We want more road courses” and “We want road courses in the chase” bandwagon. I can understand the appeal of road course races in NASCAR. The races tend to be a significantly shorter distance, and in theory should be run quicker, which appeals the those fans with the attention span of a gnat. Too, the crashes are spectacular, usually destroying as many cars as the big one at Talladega, but, unfortunately, forcing long red flag periods to clean up the mess, thus extending the races, and this is also an appealing point to some (the crashes, not the added length of time). Add that, usually, after a road course race, tempers are flaring, which appeals to some, and has somehow morphed its way to these road courses from the short tracks. Blocking is even praised on a road course! People love to point fingers at tracks like Michigan as examples of race tracks that should be plowed under.

I must be the only one, as I hate road courses, and I wouldn’t shed a tear if they went away. I don’t watch races for the wrecks (the appeal of road courses). The length of a race was never a bone of contention before on speedways, so why is it now? And why is it necessary for drivers to behave like spoiled brats just because they don’t get their own way on the track, so they have to resort to school-yard bully tactics after a race? This happens a lot more on a road course than it does on a speedway. No, I watch, and go to, races to see racing. The best car gets the best of the field. I do not go to see demolition derbies (although I was at Talladega once), nor do I go to see fights in the pits. I also like to see the whole track when I go to the race, and not just a small portion of it. I remember back in the 70’s and 80’s at Mosport, we camped in corner 2 in the infield. We had a view of corner 1 down through to corner 3. Somehow, all the action was down at the turn 5-5a-5b hairpins, which is where most everyone sat on the hill there to watch. At Michigan, I sit high enough to not only see the entire track, I can see Detroit! Another thing about those Mosport days was that it seemed all most people did all weekend was drink themselves silly and disturb those who came to enjoy the races. This was the main reason we stopped going.

Yes, I understand why people want more road races in NASCAR. But, I am not jumping on the bandwagon demanding more. There are more than enough of them.

Saying that, I will admit, a road course does add some uniqueness to the season, but adding more will take away that uniqueness. Two road course races on the schedule are more than enough, and one is not needed in the chase. The only thing needed in the chase is to do away with it and make it a season-long championship.


Oval track cars putting on better shows on road courses then on ovals….who would have thought.
Can you see were the NA$CAR bigwigs are headed with this

Tim S.

I think burnouts in general are silly, and they’re right to be suspicious about damage, but geez, just what the sport needs, yet another rule.

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