Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: NASCAR’s Texas-Sized Troubles

NASCAR fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the annual trip to Texas Motor Speedway is now in the rearview.

In fact, NASCAR is finished with the state of Texas altogether for 2024, as the Circuit of the Americas has also hosted its annual race already.

And much like previous years, the discussion of where Texas Motor Speedway stands on the NASCAR schedule has been in full force this week. Texas is not in most fans’ good graces, and it hasn’t really been since it opened in 1997.

After the 2017 repave, the track has only become more maligned in recent years. Add in the disaster of the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race, and this track is hanging by a thread in terms of favoritism among some fans.

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Eyes on Xfinity: Ryan Sieg, Man of the People

While the 2024 edition of Texas provided some action in all three series, including a photo finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series between Sam Mayer and Ryan Sieg, the Fort Worth track remains on many lists of tracks people want removed from the NASCAR schedule altogether.

Meanwhile, COTA hasn’t really had a chance to prove itself after its first Cup race in 2021 was marred to hell and back with torrential rain that even the rain tires couldn’t relieve. That was followed with a rather uneventful 2022 race that was only saved by a great finish between Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and AJ Allmendinger.

The 2023 race featured a triple-overtime finish that saw several cars crash out late in the race in a very disorganized and disrespectful finish. Worse yet, the race was dominated by just two drivers, Tyler Reddick and William Byron, with the former winning the race. Then it was back to another snooze-fest in 2024, this time almost entirely dominated by Byron.

Meanwhile, the Xfinity races at COTA were also forgettable aside from the most recent race, when Kyle Larson took an 11th-hour victory.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has also had a forgettable slew of races in Austin, save for an awesome battle on the final restart that saw Zane Smith go from fourth to first in one corner after the three leaders ran into one another coming to turn 11.

COTA has either had complete barnburners or complete snoozers, and it somehow can’t find the happy medium, which has seemed to agitate some fans.

With both COTA and Texas just not producing the racing many want to see, is it in NASCAR’s best interest to leave the entire state of Texas altogether? It’s worth remembering that COTA and Texas aren’t even the first problem tracks that NASCAR has had in the state of Texas.

Texas World Speedway, a track built as a one-for-one copy of Michigan International Speedway, and eventually, Auto Club Speedway, hosted NASCAR intermittently between 1969 and 1981. Unfortunately the track, located in College Station not too far from Texas A&M University, was poorly kept up, was eventually closed and is in a long, slow process of demolition that started in 2017.

There’s been a longstanding issue with putting on NASCAR-sanctioned events in Texas. While it seems asinine to think that a state with several major markets shouldn’t have any races, what else could NASCAR do to put on a halfway respectable show in the Lone Star State?

See also
Holding A Pretty Wheel: Texas Can't Afford To Hold 'Em if NASCAR Is in the Future

One option that has been floated around several times is reconfiguring Texas Motor Speedway. There have been many theories as to what that could look like, between a 1.25-mile bullring to a second version of the new Atlanta Motor Speedway. Hell, they could even be thinking about making Texas the new Texas World or Auto Club to give Michigan a new sister track. But nobody knows for sure if a reconfiguration is even happening.

Another option could be changing the layout of COTA for the Cup Series. There are several different layouts of COTA, and maybe running the entire track length isn’t the answer as much as a shorter layout is.

But would NASCAR leave the state of Texas altogether?

The simple answer is as long as Texas Motor Speedway is still standing and owned by Speedway Motorsports, probably not. However, the track needs some sort of change, because whatever’s happening right now isn’t working.

NASCAR needs some sort of presence in Texas; it has too many markets within the state to give up the money it could rake in to go elsewhere. But so far, it’s on the verge of going 0-for-3 on Texas racetracks, and that is both surprising and unacceptable.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the dilemma in which NASCAR finds itself.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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Ron Brown

The Speedway that that operated from 1969-1981, that was configured after Michigan was not Texas World Speedway. However, Ontario Motorspeedway was configured like Michigan, and it was located in Ontario, CA. TX World was somewhat similar, but had steeper banking. Ontario closed for the exact reason that Auto Club Speedway did just recently. The land was too valuable to remain a racetrack. Texas World Speedway failed because the original owner/builder openly stated that he was trying to compete with Bill France Sr, so Sr pulled the race date from him. None of the stock car races held there after that were usually sanctioned by USAC.

CCColorado

Great catch… never let the facts get in the way of a good story, or so it seems.
NASCAR needs to be in Texas, too big of a market not to be.
Their seemed to be a decent crowd, but with that mammoth facility half the state of Texas needed to be present to fill it up. So a smaller track seems logical, sort of Richmond size, banked, etc.
But, with the exit of Super Star promoter Eddie Gossage there is a big job ahead for those involved to bring this race back to some form of glory.

DoninAjax

I thought Ontario Motor Speedway was configured like Indy, Indy of the West.

Kuku H

It is like that. it was also in the NASCAR Legends game from 1999.

DoninAjax

Maybe using real “race” cars would help Brian’s product? Nobody complained about the racing at Ontario Motor Speedway.

Terry Whitaker

It’s not the track… Never has been… It’s the cars… Downforce dependent…. Too much spoiler and not enough horsepower …. The geniuses in Daytona are too arrogant and proud to listen… The once template cars they insist on are killing the sport, and the fans. Never was a problem till they tried to turn it into IROC…. Why doesn’t Nascar build the cars and let the teams draw one every weekend…. Remember your local short track .. cars of every shape and size and still photo finishes…. Too much corporate appeasing and no relying on driver skills ….UGH!!!!

David

I live in Texas and have been to some races at TMS and to be honest nobody wants to sit in the Texas heat for 3 1/2 hrs to watch 2 drivers dominate a race with only one or two cautions for dubrie . I really hate to say this but the races are just boring, why Should I spend 100 to bake on uncomfortable seats not to mention the cost to drive there and dealing with the traffic in Dallas to go to a place that’s just not fun anymore. Half the fun of going to the race was before and after the race visiting the vendors they used to make it almost a carnival type atmosphere, now it’s just a few vendors selling the same things. If Texas wants the fans back they need to address some of these issues the tickets are to expensive to watch a boring race.

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