Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NASCAR's Road Atlanta Site of New Chase Race?

Watkins Glen provide the best race of the year so far.
Could a Chase race at Road Atlanta also be in the cards?
Mostly overlooked in last week’s reports that GrandAm was buying the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and merging the two in 2014 for a united American road racing series (critical for the future of road racing, by the way), was the news GrandAm also took ownership of the Road Atlanta and Sebring race tracks.

Both tracks were previously controlled by Dan Panoz, the driving force behind ALMS, who sold out for a reported $20 million.  Pretty cheap if you ask me.  Anyway, GrandAm, of course, is owned by NASCAR. 

And that’s the other big news.  NASCAR, reportedly considering adding a road race to The Chase, suddenly owns one of the nation’s premier natural road courses, right in the heart of it fans base. 

By most accounts, the best Sprint Cup race so far this season took place at Watkins Glen.  Some (including me) would say the best Cup races of the past couple of years have been on road courses.  As a result, there's been talk of adding a road race to The Chase.  Up until now, Wisconsin’s Road America, site of a Nationwide race, has been considered the prime candidate should a third road course be added to the Cup schedule and The Chase.  The GrandAm/NASCAR purchase of ALMS/Road Atlanta might change that.  Why let Road America host the race, if you can do it yourself?  

NASCAR teams have long used Road Atlanta for some of its road course testing.  Brad Keselowski broke his ankle there last year.  It’s a track not unlike Road America, with significant elevation changes, fast straights and fast, sweeping turns.  It would require some safety updates before a Cup race could be staged there, but that’s easily accomplished.  There’s not much in the way of grandstands, nothing like Watkins Glen or Sonoma, but on a par with Road America.  

It’s only a couple of hundred miles from downtown Charlotte, less than a four hour drive.  Less than three hours from Talladega, two hours from Atlanta International Raceway.  There’s bound to be concerns about another Chase race being so close to events at Martinsville, Charlotte and Talladega and coming fairly soon after the Labor Day race at Atlanta.

But think of the possibilities.  It could be quite a weekend for race fans, the Petite Le Mans finale to the GrandAm season on Saturday, a Cup Chase race on Sunday.  And what the heck, run a Nationwide race at the ¾ mile Lanier Speedway across the street on Saturday night.

Just too bad Lanier's not a dirt track.

8 comments:

  1. Lanier used to be a dirt track, long ago.

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  2. If we must have a chase, then it should include a road course. All the current chase proves is who is the best on 1.5 ovals. The last 10 races should have one of each type of track. Richmond should not be the last race before the chase, it should be the first. Richmond, Concord, Bristol, Martinsville, Dover, Daytona, a road course, Darlington, Texas, and Phoenix. With Daytona ending the season.

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  3. We don't need a road course in the chase! Road courses in NASCAR are just so they can have something different a couple of times a year. If we are going to add a track to the chase and if it is going to be a track the Sprint Cup cars don't race on then lets add Rockingham......NASCAR needs to get back to it's roots, the long time fan that has supported NASCAR for years needs to have something. NASCAR is losing fans daily. They have neglected the older fan that helped NASCAR and catered to the new younger fan and now that younger fan is moving on to the next fad! The older fan like me and a lot of others are becoming disenchanted with the new NASCAR and we are dropping out too. NASCAR needs to wake up before they find themselves on the outside looking in and wondering what happened!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, much better to watch them go round and round, crash, round and round, crash, round and round, crash, round and round, crash, round and round, crash, round and round, crash, round and round, crash, round and round, crash, etc..... How boring!

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  4. And I bet Tony wouldn't mind a NASCAR race at Eldora......NASCAR used to run the dirt tracks and ARCA still does............I might even pay to see that!

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  5. Great place to watch a race, you can pick a spot to watch and if you don't like your spot you just move. It is really fun to be so close to the action and the fans. I have been going there since it opened and try to go to the Petite La Mans and it is crazy fun to be able to walk in the pit area. Go Road Atlanta

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