Many of the 1.5-mile oval tracks on NASCAR’s schedule have an unfortunate nickname: “cookie cutter.” They’re not known for the most interesting racing in the world. However, most do have an alternate, often unique road course layout that other series use. Why doesn’t NASCAR race there instead?
Some kind soul at NASCAR may share our disdain for racing at the same track in different towns over and over again, as A.J. Allmendinger just tested on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 2.3-mile road course, per Motorsport.com.
Charlotte is—you guessed it—a 1.5-mile oval. However, its road course cuts into the infield, and can be run in several different configurations. It doesn’t have quite the cachet of Watkins Glen or Sonoma, but dadgummit if Charlotte’s road course wouldn’t be a welcome change in the schedule.
This isn’t the first time Charlotte has suggested they may have NASCAR run their road course. Two years ago, the CEO of Charlotte Motor Speedway operators Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Marcus Smith, told Motorsport.com that they would announce a road course date at their Charlotte track, but no such announcement was ever made. Now, sources told Motorsport.com that Charlotte could use the road course for NASCAR as soon as NASCAR’s All-Star Race, however, Charlotte’s fall date is much more likely to test this idea out.
Of course, Charlotte’s race dates wouldn’t just benefit by being different. NASCAR on road courses is delightful madness, often pushing drivers who are more accustomed to driving on oval tracks out of their comfort zone and inviting “road course ringers” from other series to try out a rowdy NASCAR racer. More road courses on the schedule would fulfill a frequent fan request.
This idea reminds me of a very good suggestion NASCAR driver and occasional Jalopnik contributor Parker Klingerman had to Texas Motor Speedway in an NBC Sports column. Don’t just repave the rain-weeper-plagued track, he argued. Redo the whole track to be unique and thus, more interesting. Reconfigure it. Make sure no one needs to rely on huge Texas signage to know they’re at Texas. That’s a great idea!
NASCAR needs more unique venues on its schedule. Going to the same tracks, but using a different layout is a fun and easy way to make that happen.