Watkins Glen President: Road America, VIR Ideal For NASCAR, Not COTA

Illustration for article titled Watkins Glen President: Road America, VIR Ideal For NASCAR, Not COTA
Photo: Peter Fox (Getty Images)

NASCAR fans have been asking the series to add more road courses for years, and with the addition of the Charlotte ROVAL and the Daytona road course, it seems that the series is listening. Not everyone agrees, though. In a phone interview with Jalopnik, Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup said the balance of road courses compared to ovals is just fine as it is.

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“Right now we have an ideal mix of road course races. Watkins Glen and Sonoma have been some of the best races on the schedule,” Printup said. “The fans love it.”

Fans certainly do. Watkins Glen has sold out for years, and both it and Sonoma have been a great opportunity to see a new driver take home the victory. And that’s why fans want to see more.

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Tony Stewart highlighted the Circuit of the Americas as a great option for NASCAR back in November of 2019 after driving the course in a stock car during the Formula One race. Since then, rumors about the addition of the track to the NASCAR schedule have run wild—but Printup advises we temper those expectations.

“The track is too long for Cup racing in its current configuration. The lap times would be long, and it’s a very technical course,” he said. “With all those corners it’s not an ideal NASCAR track, but of course they could come up with a different layout.”

COTA does have an alternate layout designed specifically for the slower kind of racing Printup is talking about. Back in 2013, V8 Supercars (now known simply as Supercars) came to COTA for the first and only time, where they ran an abbreviated version of the full F1 course.

But for Printup, there are much better options.

“Us and the Sonoma operators are rooting for Road America to be added. It’s right in the middle of the country,” he said. “I’d say that 40 percent of the drivers want to see more road course races on the schedule. Some older drivers may resist, but the younger guys want to mix it up.”

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Road America isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility—the Xfinity series competed there last weekend, on August 8, and put on a damn good show. It could very well have doubled as a way for The Powers That Be to scope out the entertainment value of a Cup race at the same location.

Asked about any other tracks that should be pegged to host a NASCAR event, Printup had a surprising suggestion: “VIR would be a great addition. It has the sight lines, the elevation changes, everything a natural terrain course should have.”

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While a handful of next season’s races have been confirmed already, the full 2021 schedule is set to be released in the coming weeks.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Freelancer. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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“The track is too long for Cup racing in its current configuration ...”

COTA course length: 3.4 miles
Road America course length: 4.048 miles