Does the prestige of the Bristol Motor Speedway night race increase with just one NASCAR Cup Series race there on pavement per season?
Luken Glover: Would the prestige increase with just the night race? Absolutely. Should it happen? I’m skeptical of that. Bristol is such an exciting track that unless NASCAR wanted to do one event at each venue, there needs to be two races there. Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Bristol and Charlotte Motor Speedway need two dates. The dirt race still doesn’t feel right, but it does increase the anticipation for the night race. Ultimately, yes, the prestige would increase, but at what cost?
Mark Kristl: Yes. Bristol has one of the few Saturday night races in the Cup Series and it is one worth the anticipation. It culminates four races in three nights at the racetrack. With only one race on the pavement, it gives the Bristol night race a little more prestige. It is the cutoff race for the Cup Round of 16, so desperation for some drivers adds to the potential drama. Hopefully ratings reflect how appreciation for Bristol has grown due to only one race on its pavement.
Taylor Kornhoff: The prestige of the night race will certainly increase with just one event on pavement and will undoubtedly drive up ticket sales, as it is one of NASCAR’s most beloved tracks. That doesn’t mean it should happen, though. Unfortunately, NASCAR loves to take the easy way out and will most likely implement the change, but it should instead work on the short track package and race on Bristol pavement twice a year. Instead of Bristol, it could cut a second date from another track like Richmond Raceway or Phoenix Raceway so that the Cup Series can race on a purpose-built dirt track or add a new venue to the schedule.
Mike Neff: The night race is a crown jewel event of the sport. Whether there is one race or 10 at the track, the night race is still the race that everyone wants to win. The prestige can’t get any higher.
Will stage break cautions at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL help or hurt the on-track product?
Neff: I wrote about this in my commentary this week. Stage cautions greatly hamper race strategy. Road course races are more dependent on strategy than any other race. Having planned breaks ruins most of that strategy. Get rid of them.
Kornhoff: There is no problem with the on-track product on road courses. Rewatching old races, there were plenty of road course snooze-fests in previous generations, and just the same, there has been plenty of great road course racing with this car, even on longer runs. There has been a gross overreaction in regard to the road course product that only further proves that we NASCAR fans are spoiled by great racing. Besides, it’s still more entertaining than Formula 1. Stage cautions will not really change anything with respect to the product. It will surely bunch the field back up and create manufactured drama, but it won’t do much more of anything than make the TV partners happy.
Glover: It depends on how you look at it. If you like races built on strategy and seeing who has the absolute best car, stage cautions damage that. If you like drama, close racing and a complete unknown, those odds increase with stage breaks. I applaud NASCAR for wanting to be consistent throughout the playoffs with each race structure, but consistency also isn’t the sport’s theme, exactly. Stage cautions do increase the chances of restart stack-ups. Is that truly what fans want? We’ll find out in a couple of weeks.
Kristl: It will help the on-track product. Look, there still can be some strategy. Come into pit before pit road closes to go with two laps to go in the stage to set yourself up for a better finish at the checkered flag, or stay out to earn stage points. It will also open the possibility of some underdogs either scoring stage points or a good finish, as the playoff drivers likely will be split depending on their position in the point standings.
After finishing 29th in his Cup debut, has Sheldon Creed earned more Cup starts this season?
Kornhoff: The No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports ride has finished no better than 30th in many of the points-paying races run so far in 2023, and in the last 10 races has only finished better than 30th a whopping four times. Though it’s not easy to see, Sheldon Creed in his Cup debut in the No. 78 outdrove his equipment by a mile at Kansas Speedway. He ran a clean race, got a ton of experience and finished above expectations for his car. For him, that might as well be a win. Because of this, Creed definitely deserves more Cup starts, but the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 would suit him far better.
Kristl: Creed brought the racecar home in one piece, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves in terms of his performance. He has zero NASCAR Xfinity Series wins, he’s been outperformed by teammate Austin Hill and still finished 29th in his Cup debut. LFM is one of the bottom-tier teams, but 29th is not a top 10 and no stage points were earned. The team could benefit from having other drivers climb into the No. 78 first before awarding Creed another start.
Neff: Creed is a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion who continues to show his ability to bring cars home in one piece and get the most from them. One race doesn’t really earn or lose other rides for people, but Creed absolutely should get more rides.
Glover: This was definitely a quiet note from the race, but Creed did a solid job. He kept his car clean, nearly completed every lap and finished where the car typically does. Live Fast is building and deserves a lot of credit, but the No. 78 lags behind almost every other car in equipment. Creed did a good job in the car and deserves some future looks.
Where will Sammy Smith drive in 2024?
Kristl: Sammy Smith should take his funding to Front Row Motorsports No. 38 truck. It’s a proposition out of left field, but just listen. How many outstanding prospects does Ford have in NASCAR? Hailie Deegan has not shined with her results. Cole Custer … we saw how he fared in Cup. Riley Herbst has how many national NASCAR series victories? Meanwhile, in Cup, we do not know how much longer Michael McDowell will continue to race full time, Ryan Preece has not been overly impressive in his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, and it is unclear whether Harrison Burton will be a long-term fixture in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21. All this leads me to say Smith should jump into the Truck Series and develop in a way akin to Todd Gilliland. Excel in Trucks, then in a few years elevate into Cup. Chevrolet has many up-and-coming talents, and Toyota does not appear to have many Cup openings in the future.
Glover: It’s hard not to see him running at Joe Gibbs Racing. Smith has struggled the past seven races, but he still has impressed in more ways than one in his rookie season. He also brings the all-important funding with him, but his talent makes him worthy of a ride. Crazier things have unfolded in silly season, but expect Smith back at JGR in 2024.
Neff: Smith has a lot of skill and would be a good addition to any team. He should be back in the No. 18 because that is a championship-caliber team and he is a championship-caliber talent.
Kornhoff: Smith will stay with JGR in the Xfinity Series for 2024. This season saw him juggling racing and high school half of the time and trading paint with John Hunter Nemechek. With Nemecheck gone and some time to place a bigger focus on racing, Smith can come into his own and develop his skills even more in 2024. He showed promise, and of course, grabbed his first win this season, but his later-season blunders are only further evidence that he should stay right where he is. At least for the time being.
About the author
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.