News Analysis: Charlotte Motor Speedway road course will be used for 2018 playoffs

What happened: NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan reported Tuesday the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield road course will likely be used for the 2018 playoffs instead of the 1.5-mile oval.

What it means: Fans will finally get to see the road course race in the playoffs they’ve been asking for, and a third road course will be on the Cup schedule. In addition, this would likely leave New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the top candidate to lose a race in favor of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which is expected to get a second Cup race next season.

News value (scale of 1-10): Seven, because this news has multiple impacts. It not only adds a road course to the playoffs, but it prevents the number of 1.5-mile tracks in the final 10 races from increasing (it would stay at five).

Questions: Is this really it for New Hampshire’s playoff race, or is there some unexpected wrinkle? How will fans react attendance-wise to the Charlotte road course? And will this give a driver like AJ Allmendinger a chance to make a deep playoff run?

17 Replies to “News Analysis: Charlotte Motor Speedway road course will be used for 2018 playoffs”

  1. I can’t believe it,the tv revenue is driving the show,i saw other serie
    in the roadcourse format at CMS.It Doesn’t make any sense 4 Nascar Cup car…

    1. Charlotte has some of the most boring racing of any 1.5-mile track, I’m all for moving to the road course. What in the world are you talking about tv revenue driving the show.

  2. A great improvement for the CUP series for several reasons…

    1. TV coverage is an excellent way to watch road racing. Try to remember a Riverside, Sonoma or Glen race that was boring.
    2. Road racing always has a lot of action and by action, I don’t mean “yellow flag wrecking”. Fender rubbing, pit strategy, tire/brake conservation, using lap cars as picks, late braking and other factors such as creative lines, (blocking) happen on every lap.
    3. Coverage is by NBC which means it’s not a 3 hour ad for NASCAR, Goodyear, Sunoco, Monster and any other products FOX wants to hype. Like, “No, that tire didn’t fail, he must of run over some debris” .
    4. Plus the reasons Jeff mentions… Only 1/2 the races in the playoffs are “cookie cutters” and more diversity.

    One suggestion would be build a “Daytona type” inter-loop starting as you enter turn three. It would make for more interesting racing for the fans in those stands and make the rule if you miss the loop, you have to go through the pits at pit speed.

    1. God i wish someone would rebuild Riverside. Such a nice flowing track with speed AND tight turns.

    2. 1 – It’s easy to remember a boring Riverside-Sears Point-Watkins Glen race because those places saw 110 Cup races to date and only averaged NINE lead changes per race. It’s difficult to remember a road race that was competitively any good.

      2 – Tire/brake conservation is not racing, and neither is pit strategy, blocking, or all of that. PASSING and REPASSING are racing; lead changes are racing.

      3 – “Diversity” is just a dead end – the sport needs more lead changes, not diversity.

  3. Not happy to hear the potential of NHMS losing a race. Unfortunately, I don’t think the track layout meshes well with what NASCAR fans are looking for, but it is different from the cookie cutter 1.5 mile tracks we see all of the time.

    All the cookie cutter tracks make it hard to identify where they are racing, and I like the variety that places like Darlington, NHMS, Indianapolis, Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Michigan and Pocono bring.

    I understand the idea that NHMS produces boring races, but I think if we gave them a chance to update the layout, add some banking (like Homestead did) it could produce some very unique results. I wish they would do that, rather than lose a date in an under-represented part of the country (and brings a lot of Canadian fans to as well)

    1. Jimmy, I feel your pain. I guess it would be too expensive to make the necessary safety improvements to use what looks like a great road course. I’m a huge fan of road racing and I think road races meet NASCAR’s two criteria… butts in the seats and eyeballs on the TV screen.

      1. Personally I like the racing that NHMS brings, but I’m biased as that’s the only track within reasonable driving distance for me (I live in Northern MA).

        But, ultimately I just would hate to see a great facility with good amenities go to waste. There are several flaws with the track, most notably the turns with too much off-throttle time, and an inability to race through the turns side-by-side competitively. Cars need to be able to come off the corner side-by-side in order to produce great racing – which is why I suggested a layout change.

        I like road course racing too, and support more of them (including in the playoffs) but I’m leery about adding too many. Replacing a cookie-cutter with an infield road course is a no-brainer though, in my humble opinion. It affords a great seating arena around the track, so all aspects of the racing can still be easily viewed. Also cookie cutters are just far too prevalent for me to miss their layout.

        I’m not so sure if a NHMS road race would work, but even if it would, I think I like the uniqueness of the 1 mile oval the way it is, so I think the only way I’d be on board with that idea is if it’s the only way to save a date. But that’s just me.

        The grandstands leave a good amount to be desired. You roast in that sun, and July in New Hampshire is hot as hell (literally). Some of the many changes I would recommend are just not that easy to implement.

        But all in all, if I could replace NHMS with a brand new track, I think there are more things I would keep the same rather than change – for instance the 300 mile length is perfect. 1 mile oval, and the proximity of the fans to pit road is unmatched.

        I just wish we can find a way to make this work

  4. I wish the CMS Road Course would be used this year in Oct. I would make plans to attend. Vegas is an awesome venue (I have been 5 times in the past) but the racing is not as good as NH or any other track that might be giving up a date.

  5. Foolish on all levels. Road racing is abysmal, Vegas not a sports demographic, New Hampshire a far better market, and the idea any track should surrender a date is wrong. People are advocating road courses for the wrong reasons – they’re so frustrated at lack of passing on ovals they think they’re somehow getting back at NASCAR by advocating road courses – and not realizing road racing has the lowest incidence of passing in all motorsports.

    1. I respect your opinion but a lot of us do really enjoy road course racing regardless of how much passing happens.

  6. I hate to see NHMS lose a race, but in all reality, attending a race at NHMS on a day with no cloud cover is nearly unbearable … unless you have a seat under the shade of the suites, or can watch the race from your RV overlooking the back stretch.

    We’ve left the grandstands multiple times before the end of a NASCAR race because the sun was too much. This is the reason that we haven’t renewed our tickets and RV passes.

    If an overhang/roof was added over the grandstands, the problem with baking in the summer sun would be nearly resolved for NHMS

  7. Jeff, have you heard anything about NASCAR want to making the engine noise quieter?

  8. I have always thought there should be a road course in the chase (playoffs, or whatever the hell they call it now), but I’m not sure the course at Charlotte is how to accomplish that. I admit I don’t know a thing about that course or how it races, so I guess we will just have to see. I’m willing to at least give a chance and I hope the rest of the fans do too.

  9. As a sports car and F1 fan I love the idea of the road course. I have long been on favor of removing 1.5 mile tracks Frome the schedule but as much as I love short track racing I have never enjoyed NHMS and would be OK with the move although I think NASCAR should have one race date that moves between 4-5 tracks that are in-between that (one or two race) situation giving them a second date a few years

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