Have you ever heard the expression “40 is the new 30″? How about “30 is the new 20″? Well, I’ve got a little expression of my own. Road courses are the new short tracks.
There. I said it.
I know I’m going to get a lot of flack from my readers here, especially the die-hards. Now I know that most of you think that road courses don’t produce actual racing, and you are still clinging to those hopes that short track racing will return to its past glory. I know. I’m one of those guys that gets excited about short track races. All 6 of them, every year.
But I also find myself disappointed following these events. All 6 of them, every year. Why? Because the “follow-the-leader-I-don’t-wanna-tick-anyone-off” style of racing has made the transition into that area of the schedule, just as it has with every other area of the schedule. Points are what it’s all about.
Until you get to a road course.
I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s the transition from the wide-open, left-turn tracks where brakes are hardly a factor, to the tight, multi-turn courses that makes these drivers go crazy. Perhaps it’s because road courses are the one place that the usual front-runners struggle at. Perhaps it’s because the road-ringers that only show up twice a year are there to win the race.
Whatever it is, road course racing has delivered some of the biggest excitement of the year.
Looking back on the season so far, if you had to choose between watching a re-run of the spring Martinsville race, or a re-run of Sonoma, which would you choose? How about between a re-run of the summer Bristol Nationwide race, or a re-run of the Montreal race?
Unless you’re prejudice against road racing, you’d probably choose the road course races.
Road courses are the one type of track where guys actually race like they kind of want to win(besides plate tracks, but that’s a given). If you watched the Montreal race, you saw guys actually hitting each other. They were hitting each other! I haven’t seen that kind of racing at Bristol since the 2002 Sharpie 500. And on top of that, there were 10 cautions. On a 2.71 mile road course!
Alright, so I’m comparing a Cup race to a Nationwide race. That’s like comparing apples to oranges. But look at Sonoma. How many guys were hitting each other out there? Kyle Busch got spun out twice. Carl Edwards wrecked his teammate(of course, we’ve seen that movie before). And somebody actually considered wrecking Jimmie Johnson. Those things alone created more excitement than the 1,500 combined laps we’ve seen at Bristol and Martinsville this year.
And on the Nationwide side, we saw two of the most exciting winning moves of the year on road courses.
On top of all that, unusual names fill the road courses twice a year. Guys like Boris Said and Ron Fellows. And on the Nationwide side, guys like Jacque Villenueve and Andrew Ranger. And guess what? These guys actually race! Andrew Ranger was giving Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards fits, and had Marcos Ambrose screaming over his radio. At the end of the day, he didn’t have a scratch on his car. He was just racing that hard.
Short tracks don’t give rookies fits anymore, either. Not in Cup, anyway. They’re so easy nowadays, and everyone is so forgiving. But road courses are a challenge. They give drivers fits. And guess what? They actually produce some exciting racing, as well as crashes, both of which are rare these days.
You can argue. You can hate me for saying it. You can deny it. But I have to say it. Road courses are the new short tracks. That’s just how it is nowadays.