Race Weekend Central

Drivers Wonder Aloud: Where’d the Pylon Go?

TALLADEGA, Ala. — With some uncertainty surrounding Texas Motor Speedway’s future, the removal of its scoring pylon last week didn’t draw much attention.

But when teams, drivers and fans arrived at Talladega Superspeedway only to find that its pylon was also gone, everyone was quick to take notice and offer their thoughts.

Some drivers were looking for the pylons the last two weeks, only to find that they were no longer there.

“It was funny, I did find myself trying to look for the pylon last weekend [at Texas], totally forgetting that it wasn’t there.” Bubba Wallace said.

“It was actually funny during qualifying for Xfinity, I got here, and I was looking for the pylon and didn’t realize that they took it down,” Ryan Preece said. “I just didn’t really think much of it until I realized on Twitter that it was taken down.”

Other drivers were quick to point out how useful scoring pylons are as a guide while they’re behind the wheel.

“I know Texas last year, I looked up at the pylon to see where we’re at and things like that, so it’s just cool,” Carson Hocevar said. “You don’t realize how cool it is until it’s gone, right? You’re like, dang, we’d always look at it all the time, if you’re in the campground or in the Cup garage or somewhere where you can’t see the TV monitor. We could have just looked for how the Xfinity qualifying was going, and instead we kept having to look at our phone and try to get service and stuff …

“It just seemed odd to me.”

See also
Michael McDowell Wins 2nd Pole of 2024 at Talladega

“I use that a lot, and I didn’t realize how much I used it until it was gone last week at Texas,” Christopher Bell said. “That is the only way that we know how many laps we’re on unless we ask our spotter, and I use [the pylon] a lot. I guess I can just key up and ask my spotter what lap we’re on, but it was super convenient to just look at the pylon and know where we’re at.

“I don’t really care about the running order, but it would be nice to have a lap count or lap ticker somewhere visual from the drivers.”

“It drove me nuts [at Texas] because in the race, you count laps, right?” Justin Allgaier said. “… and it’s a really good indicator of like where the field is at, who you’re racing against, who’s coming and going.”

Martin Truex Jr. partially broke from the crowd, saying that at least for a superspeedway like Talladega, the scoring pylon isn’t as much of a help as it is elsewhere.

“Not really here,” Truex said. “I mean, you can kind of see what’s going on. Everybody’s so close, it’s not like there’s a guy a half lap ahead of you or something like that. We’re all in such a tight pack, you kind of know what’s going on.”

But with their height and visibility, the pylons have a purpose not just for the teams, but for the fans in both the infield and the grandstands.

“[The pylon] gives fans something to see, like qualifying, right when that number — their favorite driver — jumps to the top,” Wallace said.

“I’m not really passionate one way or the other, but I think for the fans and the team members and everybody, it seems like it serves a purpose, right?” Josh Berry said. “And that’s to tell the lineup. Like I said, [it’s a] ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ kind of thing for me.

“Well, I mean listen, [the pylons] are so important that they put them on TV,” Denny Hamlin said.

Hamlin was referring to the tickers used by both FOX and NBC broadcasts, which can display the running order of up to 20 drivers at once.

“You want to be able to see where your driver is at, and that’s why it’s important.”

See also
Xfinity Breakdown: Jesse Love Earns 1st Xfinity Win at Talladega

As for the future? With the pylons removed at both Talladega and Texas, it will be intriguing to see if any other tracks on the schedule follow suit. Regardless of how many are taken down, however, there’s quite a few drivers that hope new ones will be put in their place.

“[Not having one] was a little different, but hopefully we’ll put one back up,” Preece said.

“I hope we go back to scoring pylons, but maybe we’re not going to,” Allgaier said. “In Indianapolis [Motor Speedway], I feel like if they can update and stay with a scoring pylon with the history that they’ve had, I feel like we should maybe follow suit.”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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KyCupFan

What is the purpose or reason for taking them down?

Robert B

According to article in Jayski NASCAR wants folks to use their app to keep up with the race. Article also said the pylons have been removed at Bristol and Watkins Glen.

Jill P

If you’re going to be on your phone a good part of the race, why bother attending in person?

wildcatsfan2016

Totally agree, Jill. When we went to races, we had headsets & a scanner so we could listen to MRN or the drivers radio but I relied on the pylon so I could see where drivers were in the field.

I don’t want to be on my phone during the race, I want to watch it real time!

Shayne

When the Xfinity race started yesterday, FOX was slow posting the running order under the lap counter. For a brief second I thought about the pylons being removed from some tracks. Glad I didn’t have to download an app to know the running order. (Insert Sarcasm).

Ellenjay

Thought I saw a comment from an ” official ” that running order is displayed on the video panels for the spectators. Guess the drivers using it didn’t come to mind.
Hard to put advertising on the pylon, too.

DoninAjax

It could be that the Brain Trust realized that the cone was another controversial useless idea and couldn’t make any money off it unlike the GEICO RESTART ZONE!

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