The Daytona Road Course Is A NASCAR Keeper

Illustration for article titled The Daytona Road Course Is A NASCAR Keeper
Photo: Brian Lawdermilk / Stringer (Getty Images)

I have to admit that I’m one of the race fans that would love to see more NASCAR events on road courses, including those delightful road course-oval events. And after both Friday night’s ARCA race and Saturday’s Xfinity event, I have to say that the Daytona International Speedway road course might actually be the most fun weekend of the year.

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The ARCA race was, well, an ARCA race. There was a chronic “turning around the wrong way on the track” problem, several minutes of the broadcast were dedicated to analyzing a mechanic pushing rainwater off the top of his pop-up, and lead lap cars were separated by over a full minute, which made for some hilarity as the frontrunning cars managed to have a solid battle while waiting for the last car to cross the start line and trigger the mid-race yellow flag.

But yesterday’s Xfinity event? Hooooo boy.

Practice and qualifying have been eliminated in all NASCAR events for the rest of the season in an attempt to limit exposure to COVID-19, which meant that every driver that took the green flag had no idea what to expect (other than chaos, of course). As a result, there were plenty of botched restarts and cars running wide through braking zones. Tempers flared after the race. Earl Bamber nearly flipped after he ran through a pothole in the dirt.

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It was chaos. Glorious, wonderful chaos.

Team Penske driver Austin Cindric led 22 0f the 52 laps, making history as the first Xfinity driver to win at the Daytona road course.

NASCAR Cup series veterans Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin have been pretty open about the fact that they have absolutely no idea what to expect.

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Today’s Cup series race starts at 3pm EDT on NBC.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

OK, Cup race is over. I never again want to hear how NASCAR drivers suck at going both left and right. The Cup guys had never raced stock cars on the Daytona Road Course. They had no practice. They had no experience with this particular layout of Daytona.

Four cautions. FOUR. Two for stage ends, one for lightning, and one when Kyle Busch’s brake roters blew up and put him in the wall. No other cautions.

NASCAR Cup drivers have to master multiple kinds of tracks just to run in the series. Today’s race proves how well they can adapt.