NASCAR on dirt is a dirty idea

Posted: October 31, 2012 in Racing

Though details haven’t been elaborated, last week NASCAR held a test at Eldora Speedway involving members of the truck series.  Yes, a dirt track hosted a test session for one of NASCAR’s top three series.  Once again NASCAR you make it way too easy.  What the hell are you thinking?

Maybe 15-years ago when the series was fledgling you could have pulled this off and made it a combined dirt and pavement series but not now.  The only way this novelty of an idea makes any sense is as a standalone exhibition event.  With the amount of money involved in the sport and how much of those dollars ride on results at the end of the season, a dirt race as a points paying event would be a travesty.

First off, how would you run it?  Would you make it a traditional “Saturday night” style event with several races culminating in one main event?  Would you keep it in line with all of the other races on the schedule and make it a standard 200 lap race on the half mile track?  Well the latter would be quite the pain in the neck because at Eldora it’s not really feasible to create a pit road style of set-up and trust me when I say a pit road would be crucial.

Think about it.  If it was to be run as a 200 or 250 lap race it’s not going to play out the same way we envision sprint cars or dirt late models flying around that place.  Instead, look more to ARCA at Springfield or the super modifieds at Syracuse – slicked off, one groove, around the bottom.  Okay, so Eldora has quite a bit more banking than those other two tracks but we’re talking about 3,400 pound trucks.  Plus, many of the drivers have extremely limited dirt tracking background (if any at all) so when you couple in those two factors  the number of tires they’d be blowing through (I don’t care how hard you make them) would be huge when you figure in practice, qualifying and the race.  You need a flawless pit road.

Another issue would be those drivers I just mentioned.  No, not in the sense that they’d be a hazard but that they’d be easy pickings.  Drivers who are not regulars on the series would love to take advantage of such competitors and find their way into a seat for the event.  You would see a huge increase of entries for this one race and that is in no way fair to the regulars who bust their butts every weekend of the year.  Say you have a points leader who isn’t well versed on dirt and then this event draws in 15-20 dirt track ringers who have never raced in the series before and never will outside of this event.  You would have to figure most of those 15-20 would make the show and have a great chance of finishing ahead of the points leader.  If other series regulars are comfortable on dirt they could finish amongst the ringers and relegate the points leader to a bottom half of the field finish which ultimately may lead to him losing the title by a points deficit at season’s end that could be attributed to the Eldora event.

All for the sake of a made-for-TV spectacle.  Let’s face it, that’s all this is.  It’s NASCAR looking to suck up a few more bucks mixed in with Eldora’s owner Tony Stewart looking to drum up some positive publicity surrounding his track that has been nothing but bashed in everything I’ve heard about it over the last couple of seasons.  Yes, I realize it has only been one test.  Yes, I realize there has not been recognition of serious intent, but things have still been placed in motion nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong on the aspect of this turning out to be an exhibition event.  If a race at Eldora does in fact happen and it’s utilized as a mid-season version of the truck’s own all-star race then I’m all for it.  But if it’s an actual points paying date on the schedule, I have one suggestion:

Host it on the weekend closest to April 1st.  Because this would be the ultimate joke.

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