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The Chase should have a road-course

Why isn't there a road-course race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup?

Some variation of that question pops up every year, with impeccable timing — as NASCAR's regular season is winding down, and as the Cup series visits (you guessed it) the road course at Watkins Glen International.

It's a fair question. The idea of putting a road course in the Chase is to test every aspect of a Cup driver's skill set.

Some of the old arguments against road racing in the Chase no longer apply. Where road courses used to favour a handful of Cup regulars, along with a sprinkling of specialists, NASCAR's new car, along with almost universal testing at road courses such as Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway, has negated much of the advantage.

As a result, moving a road course into the Chase wouldn't constitute rank favouritism, as it would have a few years ago.

A road course in the Chase, of course, would mean that a race already in the Chase would have to go, and that, says NASCAR president Mike Helton, isn't likely to happen.

“The Chase wasn't about changing the schedule,” Helton said Friday at the Glen. “It still is not, because that gets really complicated moving types of tracks around in the closing of the season. It kind of is what it is.

“We're still in the mindset not to adjust the schedule to accommodate the Chase. The Chase accommodates the schedule.”

Of course, that doesn't mean movement within the final ten races is impossible. The Chase schedule changed this year, in fact. Atlanta is out, for the first time since the Chase was introduced in 2004, and Auto Club Speedway in California is in.

Even that move is not without its backers and detractors. Jimmie Johnson thinks the change favours his #48 team because of its strength at two-mile California — as if the three-time defending champion needed another slight edge.

Johnson team-mate Jeff Gordon rues the loss of Atlanta from the Chase, because of the #24 team's prowess at 1.5-mile intermediate speedways.

The bottom line is that scheduling should not be a deal breaker if there is a real desire to put a road-course race in the Chase. Sonoma in September, when the grapes are ripening on the vines, sounds like a wonderful idea.

If adding a road-course race to the Chase means adding a third road-course race to the schedule — in addition to Sonoma and Watkins Glen — Mark Martin is against it.




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Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with a burnout after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
With General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, holds the Michigan Heritage Trophy after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. In 2013, MIS began awarding the Michigan Heritage Trophy as a recognition and celebration of the automobile and it`s importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with his crew after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Noxbox - Unregistered

August 12, 2009 7:55 PM

I think there should be a road course in the Chase. As the article mentions, there are four 1.5 races out of 10!?!?! This is why drivers like Jimmy Johnson can come into the Chase in 7th place but still win the championship. How is that fair? Next season, NASCAR needs to mix up the venues that make up the Chase, including a wide variety of tracks and surfaces. Otherwise I'm calling this as it is: a fraud.

Bob Barnes - Unregistered

August 13, 2009 10:55 AM

Watch nascar for a while yoda, race on an oval yourself, or even in a simulator, you'll soon understand. Try getting 800hp around a half mile oval with 42 other cars - you can't stop working for a fraction of a second, being on the track is like being in a pressure cooker especially at bristol with 160,000 fans around the track, or running bumper to bumper on a superspeedway, its like chess at 200mph. Nascar is also about adjusting your car to keep up with the changing track conditions, oval corners are long so a good nuetral handing car is essential, not all drivers can do this, kyle busch and jimmie johnson are very good. There's much more to it than it seems at first



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