|Watkins Glen provide the best race of the year so far.|
Could a Chase race at Road Atlanta also be in the cards?
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.