NASCAR at Kentucky: 7 Other Tracks That Deserve a Sprint Cup Race
For better or for worse, the inaugural race at Kentucky Speedway took place last weekend.
Another cookie-cutter track from the Speedway Motorsports Inc. family, the 400-mile race saw very little in terms of actual action until the latter stages of the 267-lap event. The Busch brothers and Brad Keselowski dominated, flying out with a lead after getting clean air during restarts. Of course, Kyle eventually won.
The boredom at the track was surpassed by the total mess that occurred off the track. Traffic was backed up for miles hours before the event, a situation that didn't remedy itself before the race. Parking was few and far between, showing that the facility clearly wasn't ready to support 107,000 fans on race day.
With that in mind, here are seven other tracks that deserve a Sprint Cup date. Some of these tracks should get their first date, some should see a return to Cup racing and some just deserve a second date.
Iowa Speedway (Newton, Iowa)
A real no-brainer here. This Rusty Wallace-designed shorttrack is a 7/8-mile oval built in the same vein as Richmond International Raceway, with banking essentially around the track and multiple racing grooves that allow for entertaining racing.
In just five short years, Iowa Speedway already has two NASCAR Nationwide Series dates (the battle between Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski there in 2009 was a classic), a Camping World Truck Series date and an IZOD IndyCar Series date.
With Featherlite Trailers—a proud NASCAR sponsor—now in charge at the track, a Cup date could come very, very soon. A 30,000-seat capacity could be perfect for a series that has struggled to sell tickets over the past few years.
Circuit of the Americas (Austin, Texas)
This 3.4-mile road course will be specifically built for Formula One, reportedly to ready in time for a June 2012 event for the biggest racing series in the world.
According to ESPN.com, the layout is expected to encourage multiple racing lines, which would allow a welcome return to actual racing on road courses from the beating and banging that we've seen over the past few years.
While the expected capacity of the track is unknown, it should be imperative that NASCAR head to a track that will also host MotoGP and Australia's V8 Supercars in 2013.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Speaking of road courses, the 200-mile event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is usually one of the craziest of the season for the Nationwide Series.
Unlike the Formula One events that occur here, there is no finesse driving during a Nationwide race here. Last season's event was a never-ending stream of wrecks and spinouts that ended with a thrilling photo finish between Boris Said and Max Papis.
This would be a perfect race for the Chase, as utter chaos would shake up the Sprint Cup standings.
Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisc.)
Taking over the Milwaukee Mile's spot on the Nationwide Series calendar in 2010, this four-mile road course has provided a unique challenge to NASCAR drivers. With 14 runs and a myriad of elevation changes—including the hill-esque front stretch—the track is often quite narrow with few zones for passing.
The track hosted a Sprint Cup race 55 years ago with the same configuration it has now. It apparently holds up very well.
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis (Clermont, Ind.)
When NASCAR announced that the Nationwide Series date at this .68-mile shorttrack would move to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2012, it seemed like a major slap in the face to loyal fans who have packed the place for decades.
It's an entertaining place that could work well on the Sprint Cup level. It's unique enough to involve its own strategy, and can provide clean racing at times.
Atlanta Motor Speedway (Hampton, Ga.)
The fastest track on the Sprint Cup circuit lost a date this season, presumably to fellow SMI track Kentucky Speedway.
While attendance at the track has slipped in recent years, the action is much more exciting at Atlanta than at Kentucky.
Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Irwindale, Calif.)
The best shorttrack to host NASCAR action on any level these days is Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, a venue with one-third or one-half mile configurations that is well-known for hosting the Toyota All-Star Showdown each January, an event in which the best of both regional (East and West) K&N Pro Series drivers face off.
Irwindale provides plenty of room for three-wide racing, especially through the turns. If there was ever a candidate to hold a caution-free race these days, Irwindale would fit the bill. The only thing not helping Toyota Speedway's cause is a capacity of 6,500.
It would probably sell out though.
Thoughts? Comment below.