Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: NASCAR, Let’s Leave Celebrity Mania to the NFL

1. Just Say “No” to Swifting Things Up

I know some of you are Taylor Swift fans. I know some of you aren’t and wish you could just ‘shake off’ all of the hysteria.

Frankly speaking, the NFL falling over itself to try and cash in on the fact that the world’s most popular entertainer is at its events has been cringe-worthy.

Let’s not ask NASCAR to do the same.

The NFL has among other things…

Changed social media bio info to reference Taylor Swift.

One player posted a deleted post on X.com [formerly known as Twitter] claiming that an officiated call was impacted by Swift.

Yes, it’s attracted eyeballs, but how many of those eyeballs are even going to have the same interest when the Swift hysteria ends?

It’s the same reason why NASCAR should steer away from courting those to be at the track with no interest in the sport. If a big-name celebrity has an interest in the sport? Fine. Even if they are non-traditional, their being at a race or even on a pit box is OK.

But the last thing race fans want to hear about is that a random celebrity is at the track, whether or not they put relish on their hot dog and who is in their entourage. Race fans tune in for a race. Fans of NASCAR are not dumb. They know when someone is at the track with no interest in being there.

In other words, keep the main thing the main thing.

See also
Post-Race Roundup: What Cup Drivers Had to Say After Talladega

2. No. 9 Team Is Already Sending a 2024 Message

Drivers that miss the playoffs usually have one goal – to use the final 10 races to jumpstart next season and send a message that next year is a revenge tour.

Obviously, that’s at the top of mind if you are a fan of Chase Elliott.

A win has not come for Elliott yet, but you can argue that the No. 9 may be finally hitting on something. In the past five races, Elliott has finished no worse than 11th and this past Sunday (Oct. 1) at Talladega Superspeedway, he was in the hunt for the win in the late going of things.

As it stands now, Elliott is in his best five-race stretch of the season. That’s big not just for Elliott, but the No. 9 team as well. NASCAR is a “What have you done for me lately?” business, and it likely grates heavily on Elliott’s team to be going into October without a race win.

Elliott may win this year, or he may not. But the message being sent is clear that anyone who expects a season as rough as this one next year should do so at their own peril.

3. Is a Larger Shift from Road Courses Back to Ovals Coming?

NASCAR makes its return to the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL this weekend. It’ll be the final road course swing of the season.

Next year will see at least one track losing a road course date with Indianapolis Motor Speedway rightfully moving its NASCAR events from the road circuit back to the traditional oval. But what about Charlotte? Next fall’s date may still be on the ROVAL – and it may not. That answer will be known when the soon-expected 2024 schedule is released.\

The ROVAL was one of Speedway Motorsports’ best experiments. It may have been a wild and crazy idea, but it worked.

It certainly gave Charlotte’s second race a totally different look and something way outside the norm. With one 600-mile race on the quad-oval already, it gave fans and drivers something totally different to go into a weekend in anticipation of, and the rousing show in the ROVAL’s debut made the gamble of something outside-the-box pay off.

The ROVAL came about to make the fall race at Charlotte more exciting. Indy had a similar experiment in moving the Brickyard 400 from the oval to the road course.

That, however, was before the current generation of cars provided some of the most exciting racing during races on intermediate tracks.

Road courses served a need to liven up racing on ovals. Now, the question may be if a reversal of fortune to move races back to the oval layouts is needed.

4. Why Not a Third 23XI Car at Talladega?

Throughout Sunday’s race at Talladega, there was one clear observation. That there were fewer Toyotas than Fords and Chevrolets. And when it’s a style of racing that calls for drafting partners, that’s a big problem. It showed as 23XI Racing, a usual frontrunner at superspeedway racetracks, needed a better part of the afternoon to even get to the front.

In short, the more dancing partners you have, the easier it is to win at Talladega, Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. That was a problem for the Toyotas. Until Denny Hamlin got back onto the lead lap, he ended up being one of the few strong draft pushers for Bubba Wallace.

That’s why it’s puzzling that 23XI Racing, a team that fielded a third car earlier this summer at Indianapolis did not do what it did in the Daytona 500 – field a third car for that race as well.

In a race where both Tyler Reddick and Wallace had cars very capable of winning, it’s puzzling that a third car was not somehow pulled together to help those chances more.

See also
Up to Speed: Is the ROVAL the Last Stand for 23XI Racing?

5. Don’t Fret Over No 2024 Points Race at North Wilkesboro

For fans hoping for a points race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, last week may have been a disappointment of sorts. Yes, there should be celebration that the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race will return, but there’s also bound to be a level of letdown that an even greater chapter of the track’s comeback, to host a points event, is yet to come.

It shouldn’t be.

This current generation of racecars has major issues with its short track program. If those faults are not fixed by next year, who’s to say the race would be any less anti-climatic for those who are not fans of Kyle Larson?

Honestly, no points race yet for North Wilkesboro is the best thing for the track. Now, NASCAR can work on its short-track ills and if those are fixed, North Wilkesboro is in a perfect position to slide right into a points-event slot.

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6 Comments
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Shayne

NA$CAR would love having the likes of Swift around every weekend.
Their media lap dogs would eat it up.

JKO75

A few years back Kim Kardashian was at the Vegas race. She fits in with NASCAR about as well as Billy Graham would’ve fit in at a Marilyn Manson concert.

DoninAjax

WWE characters at their events would be more appropriate. Hulk Hogan! The Undertaker! Charlotte Flair! The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes! Perfect for Brian’s product.

Last edited 7 months ago by DoninAjax
Fireball22

Personally, I like the road courses, and hope that both Indianapolis and the ROVAL remain on the schedule. What I’d really like to see added would be Laguna Seca. That would be insane.

DoninAjax

Why don’t they give back the infield courses to the ovals, kill Kansas and Chicago street course and add real road courses at Mosport and Laguna Seca?

Dan

Terrible take on celebrities at race tracks. This needs to always be welcome in NASCAR. It’s very valuable exposure for the sport. This actually needs to be improved in NASCAR.

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