Eric’s Take: I’m a convert — All Star package may not be the answer

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton's 400

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Red White & Blue Toyota, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 1, 2018 in Joliet, Illinois. Photo by Jared C. Tilton

It might seem odd to some who follow the podcast to read this next sentence — I think we need to consider not using the All Star package in the Cup Series.

Look, I was all in favor of it in the All Star race. It definitely made a race that has been poor the last few years much better. I was excited when the Xfinity cars ran the package at Michigan. And I even looked forward to NASCAR trying the package at Michigan in the Cup Series in August.

But last weekend’s Cup race at Chicagoland may have changed my mind. Continue reading

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Podcast #65 — Iowa Speedway needs a Cup race

Show Notes:

Recap: Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity races at Iowa

  • Good races both days
  • Trucks: Noah Gragson tries the Carl Edwards video game move for the win.
  • Xfinity: Allgaier leads a ton of laps but holds off charges for the win

News Items:

New segment: Do we care?

  • This is a segment we will try to do every week on the podcast. We’ll take something a bunch of people are talking about or something not many people are talking about and discuss whether we care about it and whether the fans should care about it.
  • During this weekend’s races at Iowa, Fox saved money by not having their main broadcasters travel to the event. Instead, they announced the race from a studio in Charlotte. The pit reporters were at the track, but Vince Welch, Adam Alexander, Michael Waltrip, etc., were not there for the race.
    • Do we care?

Preview: Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway

  • Picks
    • James: Kurt Busch
    • Eric: Clint Bowyer

Dark Horse

    • Eric: Daniel Suarez
    • James: Michael McDowell
  • Shoutouts if any
    • Plug the fantasy league
    • Plug Patreon

Close show

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook @ TheSuperSpeedway

For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well.
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

Eric’s Take: It’s time to run a Cup race at Iowa

NASCAR Xfinity Series Iowa 250 presented by Enogen

Austin Cindric, driver of the #22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Iowa 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway on June 17, 2018 in Newton, Iowa. Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about how to improve the on-track product in NASCAR, especially the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

And we’ve tried a number of experiments. We tried high-drag packages at Indianapolis and Michigan. That didn’t work. We tried low downforce at Kentucky, which ultimately became the package we have today. I think it’s safe to say that hasn’t worked.

And we tried the high-drag and restrictor plate package — some drivers are calling it the “snorkel package,” at the All Star race at Charlotte this year. While that package impressed in short, 20-lap runs, the verdict is still out on how it will react during a full race. We did get a sampling of it in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, however, as the same package was run at Pocono and Michigan the last couple of weeks after a successful debut at Indianapolis last year.

But the package stunk at Pocono, and while it produced close racing at MIS, a look at the finish the year before would tell you that the package there didn’t really need any tinkering. And while Indy was a huge improvement last year, there really wasn’t anything that could have been done to make the racing worse there. So any improvement would have been welcomed.

What I’m saying is the more we tinker with the aero package and restrictor plates and whatever else NASCAR decides to do, it’s just a band-aid. Putting PJ1 down in the turns is a band-aid.

And while I think that NASCAR spends too much time listening to the demands of the fans, I think one thing the fans have been screaming for lately needs to be listened to — we need more short tracks.

I don’t think anyone disagrees that short track racing is some of the best racing we get in NASCAR. But how do we increase that short track offering? North Wilkesboro isn’t coming back — it would probably be cheaper to build a new track than to resurrect that one, unfortunately. I don’t see a lot of tracks being built lately, and most facilities are tearing down stands rather than building them.

The argument that I heard against more short tracks is generally that there just aren’t any short tracks that could handle a Cup race.

But we saw one this weekend, and if you tuned into either the Camping World Truck Series race Saturday or the Xfinity Series race Sunday, you saw a great race — or two if you watched them both. Iowa Speedway was built with the help of a Hall of Fame NASCAR driver in Rusty Wallace. Wallace took one of his favorite tracks, Richmond, and built a bigger version of it — it is a 0.875-mile D-shaped oval with variable banking of 12 degrees to 14 degrees in the turns.

Let’s not ignore the fact that Iowa Speedway’s asphalt has also aged — the best ingredient for great racing — and the cars run all over it looking for grip. But this track has put on great shows since it was built.

Not only that, Iowa Speedway was built after the SAFER barrier revolution. So not only was it the first NASCAR track where the entire outer wall was fitted with “soft walls,” but there’s not even a concrete wall there. Every inch of wall at the track is SAFER barrier.

Sure there aren’t enough seats to hold a Cup race there — the track has half the seats of Richmond at only 30,000. But it wouldn’t take much to add to the seats that are there to increase capacity. How great would it be to see a NASCAR track increasing capacity?

I have not personally been to Iowa Speedway — I hope to make the trip next year — so maybe I’m speaking out of turn in saying the track could host the Cup Series with only a few modifications. But I know the intent when the track was built was to host larger series than the AA and AAA NASCAR “leagues,” and the track has hosted the Verizon IndyCar Series as well, though it doesn’t bring in the fans NASCAR does.

Either way, with NASCAR’s five-year agreement coming to a close soon with its current race tracks, I think the time is right to take a good hard look at adding Iowa Speedway to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, even if it means taking a date away from another track. This place could host some excellent Cup races, and might just be the thing the series needs to get fans back in front of their TV sets, or maybe even out to the race track.

Eric’s Take is a new series on The SuperSpeedway that will be featured each week.

The great thing about racing

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Note: As Eric and I prepare to cover a NASCAR Cup Series race for the first time ever, I wanted to share what NASCAR and Michigan International Speedway mean to me. This post was originally penned in 2010 but its meaning remains the same. A lot has changed in my life since I wrote this post all those years ago. The one thing that remains the same, racing is in my blood. Happy MIS week!

“It’s nothing but a bunch of cars running around in circles.”

“I drive a car every day, I could do that.”

“They aren’t athletes.”

Those are the quotes that I hear the most when I talk about racing. That all may be true, but I disagree.

Racing is more than just a Sunday drive. For me, it’s a passion, and obsession.

On Sunday, I took my annual pilgrimage to the Michigan International Speedway, and guess what? I had a blast.

Watching 43 drivers race at 200 mph is almost as much of a thrill for me as it is for them.

Someone can never get the full experience of NASCAR racing until they see it in person.

Baseball fans will tell you there is nothing like the sights, sounds and smells of being at the ball field. The same applies for me when I think about racing.

It all starts when I wake up at 4 a.m. to get ready to meet my family and friends. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning as I fill my cooler with sandwiches and bottles of frozen water. After a couple of hours of travel we make the final turn. There is no better sight than making that turn toward the track. There are thousands of campers flying flags of their favorite drivers, and heroes. They fill the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, surrounding the 2-mile oval.

Then there are the smells. The campfire, the charcoal of tailgaters grilling hot dogs at 8 a.m. Even the sunscreen, as I apply it to my shoulders that are sure to burn regardless of how much I cake on, has a different aroma on race day. And the best of all is the smell of the fuel and burning rubber as the cars take to the track. I am home.

As the cars scream down the front straightaway there is definitely a strain on my ears, but I don’t care. I am focusing on where Tony Stewart is, and how his team will strategize to get him to the front of the pack.

The great thing about MIS is the side-by-side dueling that drivers do all over the track. Every lap there is a pass. One driver will shoot to the top of the track inches from the wall, another will dive to the bottom, and as you think one will pass the other, the door slams and they take their battle to the next turn.

As the race comes to a close, and the grandstands are covered in smoke from the winner’s burnout, we rush back to the car for a race of our own, trying to beat everyone else who wants to get home.

And as I ride home, my head continues to spin about all that I have taken in that day. The excitement, the drama, and the fun with friends and family, it all leads to a giant grin on my face.

As my day comes to an end and I rest my head, I know that I lived my life to the fullest, being around the things I love.

Some people will never agree, or feel the same way I do about racing but that’s OK. I’m sure we all have something we enjoy just as much.

Overtime line, 3 p.m. start time lose, Kahne and IMS win at Brickyard 400

2017-July23-kaseyKahne-hero.jpgKasey Kahne leads Brad Keselowski late in the Brickyard 400 on the way his first win after a 102-race winless streak.
Nascar.com/Courtesy

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Kasey Kahne won his first race since August 2014 Sunday when he took the checkered flag in the 2017 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After lackluster racing over pretty much the entire course of the race’s history, Sunday’s race was not only certainly the most exciting Brickyard 400 ever, but also one of the best races so far this season. On the eve of NASCAR likely changing the rules package for Indy next season based on the success of the Xfinity Series package just a day prior, it appears as if maybe it doesn’t need it.

Continue reading