With the FDA approving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, should NASCAR require vaccinations for garage access?
Luken Glover: No, it is not needed. Some drivers have voiced that a negative test should be all that is needed, and I agree with that. While I want the virus to be eradicated as much as the next person, it can’t overrule freedoms and privacy to make such a decision. The decision to be vaccinated is a personal choice and a mandate can be avoided while also guaranteeing safety in the garage. The results of being vaccinated or the results of not getting vaccinated are options that a person has to weigh when looking at it, and there are varying opinions on it. That’s the freedom we have, and that should not be touched.
Josh Roller: This is a challenging question to answer. There are valid arguments for requiring and not requiring, and I can’t take a stance either way. But if NASCAR does decide to institute a mandate for vaccination to access the garage, it must require everyone (drivers, crews, track workers, track staff, media, etc.) to have proof of vaccination or vaccination progress. And it better be prepared for blowback from fans and probably some within the industry.
Jared Haas: No. I have received the vaccine and encourage others to take it, but a vaccine mandate is not the way to go to get people vaccinated. The common goal on any side of the political spectrum is to have COVID-19 be a thing of the past. Some people are hesitant about whether or not the science of the vaccine is effective. That should not be penalized by NASCAR. A vaccine mandate would cause deeper resistance and be a net negative.
Jesse Johnston: No. It’s authoritarian at its core, and this “papers, please” mentality that some people have over these vaccine and mask mandates doesn’t leave a good impression at all. To encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, positive reinforcement is key. For example, if fans do show proof of vaccination, they can access the garage at a discounted rate of 15 or 20%, and mask wearing would be optional. Or they could get a discount on speedway merch and concessions (I’m looking at you, Nashville Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway). You’ll have a much more difficult task trying to win people over by using negative reinforcement on these COVID-19 mandates. Motivating people to do something by threat or force only shows that you don’t truly care about their health or safety. You just want to have power and control over them.
Barring a surprise winner, Richard Childress Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon will battle for the final NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot. Who will get it?
Roller: Austin Dillon has the advantage due to his talent on superspeedways. Tyler Reddick holds the points advantage, and as long as he scores points in both stages, that will ultimately force Dillon into a must-win situation. But Dillon is a legitimate threat to win at Daytona International Speedway. At the end of the day, however, Reddick’s points lead is too much for Dillon to overcome, and he’ll be in the playoffs.
Haas: Sitting 25 points above the cut line, Reddick has to think big picture by not putting himself in dicey situations during the race to keep his lead over Dillon. Reddick should race reactively, not proactively, against Dillon. If Dillon scores many stage points, Reddick should crank it up a notch but not risk it for a last-place finish. Reddick should secure the final playoff spot on points over Dillon even though Dillon has won at Daytona.
Johnston: This one’s a true toss-up. No matter who advances and who fails, RCR will have a bittersweet night in Daytona. But I choose Dillon. While Reddick may hold the cushion over Dillon in the standings, his driving style on superspeedways is a lot more unpredictable. Just look back at last year’s race when he threw an erratic block on Kyle Busch and triggered a multi-car crash. Dillon, on the other hand, has a higher tendency to get his car to the end of the race. And that’s what will increase his likelihood of making this year’s playoffs.
Glover: Dillon has the advantage on Reddick head to head, but Daytona is so unpredictable that it is hard to clearly say he will best him. If Dillon has a car and race like he did in the Daytona 500, he has a very good shot at beating his teammate. However, Reddick has shown capability to run well on superspeedways and is not afraid to be aggressive. Whichever driver is smarter will make it, but it is hard to go against Reddick at this point.
The Los Angeles Coliseum has been mentioned as a potential site for a NASCAR race. Would you be in favor of such an event?
Haas: Yes. Even though other motorsports have raced on the Coliseum as a dirt track, NASCAR can make the track work differently. A simple bullring would be a breath of fresh air on the schedule.
Johnston: Absolutely not. Yes, the idea could work for AMA Supercross, Stadium Super Trucks or motorized X games. But not for the NASCAR national series. You seriously think they’ll be able to hold a full-size field in that little stadium? The only possibility would exist within the ARCA Menards Series West. But you know what track I’d recommend instead? The Madhouse, Bowman-Gray Stadium. Bring the ARCA Menards Series East back to that track and you’ve got yourself a show.
Glover: Absolutely. Tracks like North Wilkesboro Speedway, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and Rockingham Speedway should be focused on first, but it is a great venture for the future. It gives the organization and fan base another short track at an iconic venue, and can bring new eyes to the sport. NASCAR has to be patient with it, but it is certainly something to target in the near future.
Roller: I’ve looked at satellite imagery, and I see the potential for a couple of layouts for a street course. The problem is would there be sufficient passing opportunities? I like the idea of NASCAR racing in a downtown setting; that’s why returning to Nashville’s Fairgrounds is so enticing. I’m for the idea, but I actually don’t want any single street course to become a regular thing on any NASCAR schedule. If NASCAR wants to designate a race as the street course race, then, by all means, let’s race at the L.A. Coliseum, downtown Chicago, Miami, Denver or Seattle. I’d like to see a rotation of street courses, and I’d include the Coliseum in that rotation.
For the second year, Daytona will serve as the regular-season finale. Do you think this racetrack is the right place for such a race, and, if not, where should the finale be?
Johnston: You know what? I give this a yes. If you want to really spice up the excitement and throw more entropy into the mix, Daytona is a stout place to hold the regular season finale. Last year’s race worked to perfection, and I bet I’ll be jumping out of my seat for the finish to Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 as well. Here’s another radical thought: Why not just have the championship finale at Talladega Superspeedway? I bet more fans would tune in to watch a champion be crowned there rather than at Phoenix Raceway.
Glover: There is a valid argument to be made that the regular-season finale at Daytona is too unpredictable and chaotic to hinge playoff hopes. However, drivers in a must-win scenario should look at it as a potential gift. You have had 25 races to lock yourself in or put yourself in a strong position to make it. If we went back to our last regular-season finale host in Richmond Raceway, it is very unlikely that drivers such as Matt DiBenedetto, Ross Chastain or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would win, barring late-race strategy. Daytona gives everyone a shot, and the three drivers just mentioned have shown that they can contend — or even win in Stenhouse’s case. That said, I do want it to be moved, but not because of its parity; rather, the tradition of the Daytona summer race on the Fourth of July weekend is a return one that many would applaud. In its place, I would like to see either Homestead-Miami Speedway or Richmond host it.
Roller: Daytona delivers flare, fireworks, exciting finishes and the opportunity for a surprise winner to win their way into the playoffs. Only one other track can truly deliver such results: Talladega. Realistically, there isn’t another track that a driver can take the white flag in 12th and then cross the finish line the next time around as the leader. Daytona is the perfect track to end the regular season if NASCAR wants major headlines and social media trends. I understand that many miss the 400-mile race at Daytona being the Fourth of July race, but Road America is the perfect replacement. Daytona hosting the regular-season finale is NASCAR in the 21st century.
Haas: Daytona provided some drama last year being the cut-off race as Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones saw their playoff hopes dashed. Daytona can be classified as a chaotic good race that is needed to end the regular season. Contenders can show up and win, but unexpected drivers like Justin Haley or Stenhouse can be victorious, too. If the second Daytona race is not on the Fourth of July week, this race date is the next best thing. If NASCAR moves the Daytona race to a different date, Road America or another road course would create the same tension before the playoffs.
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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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