NASCAR: 7 Sprint Cup Tracks Iowa Speedway Could Replace
Almost immediately after Iowa Speedway opened its doors in 2009, a single question has surrounded the race track:
When will it get a Sprint Cup race?
In the last 15 years, NASCAR fans have seen the Sprint Cup series schedule expand to include Texas, Fontana, Las Vegas, Homestead, Chicago, Kansas, and Kentucky. That's six 1.5-mile high-banked ovals and a two-mile high banked oval, all of which produce the same strung-out, uneventful racing.
So there was excitement in the air when Iowa joined the NASCAR circuit, as fans rejoiced at the addition of a .875-mile oval that loosely resembles Richmond International Speedway with a layout that combines close quarters and high speeds.
Iowa has produced some fantastic racing in its six Nationwide Series races and four Camping World Truck Series races, and seems the perfect spice to fix (or at least partially alleviate) the overload of mile-and-a-half tracks that has fans and even drivers (via Sporting News) clamoring for more unique venues.
So here's a look at five tracks that most fans would gladly see yanked from the Cup schedule and replaced by Iowa Speedway.
And keep in mind, if you disagree with any of the tracks on this list or have your own suggestion as to a track you would like to see replaced, you can always let us know in the comments below.
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Homestead-Miami joined the Sprint Cup circuit in 1999, when it was still a virtually-flat 1.5-mile oval.
The racing was so lackluster that the track was completely revamped in 2003 to include progressive banking, which was supposed to make the surface more suitable for side-by-side action.
But after the novelty of the remodel wore off, Homestead has since fallen in line with the other mile-and-a-half tracks on the circuit, lending itself to long stretches of green flag racing in which the pack gets so strung out that action is but a pipe dream for race fans.
The odds of this one happening are remote given the fact that Homestead finds itself in the precious spot of hosting the season's final race every year. In fact, that alone is Homestead's saving grace, as it has been home to two of the most exciting championship climaxes in history in 2004 and 2011.
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Straight from the never-going-to-happen department, there are probably plenty of race fans who wouldn't mind swapping one track beginning with an "I" for another.
Leading up to the Brickyard 400 two weeks ago, all the discussion was about whether or not NASCAR should continue going to Indianapolis. (I even touched on it here.)
Another dismal showing by the fans (NASCAR's official number was 120,000, while others at the track estimated closer to 100,000; either way, still a record-low for the event) and a remarkably uneventful afternoon only threw more fuel on the flames.
Now, this will never happen. Ever. Indy is too big and prestigious for drivers and too lucrative for NASCAR to ever consider it being dropped from the schedule.
But having the Cup cars visit Iowa in lieu of Indy would provide fans with a much more competitive event, which, at the end of the day, is what the fans want.
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These two are so indiscernible from one another that it just made sense to have them on the list together.
Both Chicago and Kansas debuted on the Sprint Cup circuit in 2001. They are nearly mirror images of each other, and produce virtually the same show as far as competition.
For argument's sake, we'll narrow it down to Chicagoland simply based on capacity—it seats 75,000 to Kansas' 81,687.
Iowa would have to expand its seating, and there is the hurdle of Chicago being the first race in the Chase, a spot which no one in their right mind would willingly give up, no matter how subpar the racing is.
But Iowa would tap virtually the same market at Chicagoland, and would provide much better racing than Illinois' cookie-cutter.
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Even with Pocono and Dover already occupying the Northeast, NASCAR opened New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 1993.
Called the "Magic Mile," Loudon was billed as a big Martinsville: a flat oval with long straightaways and tight, narrow corners.
But no matter how tight the corners, once a racetrack gets to a certain length, the short track magic is gone.
Loudon's flat corners mostly fall flat when it comes to providing exciting racing. A trip to Iowa instead of New Hampshire has the potential for more fireworks and more exciting action.
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NASCAR's newest addition to the Sprint Cup schedule made its debut in 2011.
Unfortunately for the fans, the novelty of a new event was undone by the fact that it's a show that they get to see—or, rather, be subjected to—far too many times in a season already.
Kyle Busch won an absolute snoozer in the first Cup race at Kentucky. Brad Keselowski took 2012's checkered flag in a slightly more enjoyable event.
But the fact is that Kentucky's addition to the Cup schedule was old hat for fans who were already tired of seeing cookie-cutter racing.
Iowa Speedway would provide a welcome change from the monotony that takes over when the Cup cars hit the track in Sparta.
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The best was saved for last.
The NASCAR fanbase soured on Auto Club Speedway almost as soon as it dropped its first green flag in 1997. Then they really showed it when NASCAR gave the track a second yearly Sprint Cup race in 2004, staying away in droves to the point that the second date was done away with after 2010.
Fontana is everything that NASCAR fans hate. While high speeds and a wide racing surface should make for a fantastic show on paper, the aerodynamic sensitivities of today's Sprint Cup cars don't allow them to get close enough and make enough passes at those speeds. Just ask Indianapolis.
Shortening its annual race from 500 to 400 miles helped Auto Club Speedway by adding a touch of urgency to the drivers, but the bottom line still remains that Cup cars just are not going to be able to put on a good show on that configuration.
This one is right behind Indianapolis in the never-going-to-happen category, because, simply put, this is Hollywood, and NASCAR isn't going to give up having a presence in Hollywood—silly as that may be.
But Iowa would put on an infinitely better show than Fontana does on a yearly basis, and it would be awesome to see it given a chance to.