Roundtable: Does NASCAR need more dirt races?

Our NASCAR team tackles the hottest topics in NASCAR this week.

Roundtable: Does NASCAR need more dirt races?
Race winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
A.J. Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Noah Gragson, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Sunoco
Harrison Burton, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Noah Gragson, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
John Hunter Nemechek, SWM-NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase Briscoe, Brad Keselowski Racing Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Rico Abreu, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Rico Abreu, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Rico Abreu, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Rico Abreu, ThorSport Racing Toyota

Now that Denny Hamlin has won a race for Joe Gibbs Racing, who do you think will be the next driver to remove the goose egg from their win column?

Jim: I have thought Kyle Busch would be the first JGR driver to reach Victory Lane and I still think he is the one driver there who can still pull it off most every week. He's been in a position to win several races already this season. So, I'm going to stick with him as the next driver to pick up his first victory of the season.

Lee: I’ll keep voting for Kyle Busch until he gets his first win. He’s by far the best racer in the series who has yet to win in 2017.

Nick: Kyle Busch is the obvious choice, especially with the Brickyard 400 this weekend, but I'm going with a wildcard: A.J. Allmendinger. That team has had a tough year, but I think he may turn it all around in a couple weeks with another win at Watkins Glen International.

Tim: Like my colleagues, I feel Kyle Busch will be next. I honestly thought he would have a couple by now. In fact, I think Matt Kenseth will also score a win too before the end of the regular season.

The annual trip to Eldora Speedway is on tap Wednesday night. With the success of the Truck race and how it's raised awareness for the CWTS, do you think it's time NASCAR looked at a Xfinity Series race on dirt?

Jim: While the Truck race at Eldora is generally action-packed and draws a lot of interest, financially for the teams, most don't even break even on the trip. The idea of a dirt race sounds very intriguing but unless the move is a financially viable one for the Xfinity teams - and another new car used only once per season doesn't appear to be - I don't think it's possible. I'm all up for trying new things but you can't run competitors out of business in the process.

Lee: No. What makes the Big E unique is that it’s only the truck series and it’s only one race. What I would entertain is Wednesday or Thursday night races for any of the three top series — but on asphalt and closer to Charlotte. Trucks will race again at Bristol on a Wednesday next month. NASCAR could condense the schedule by adding weekly events during the summer. There are a lot of short tracks in big markets that could support a weeknight race.

Nick: Despite the obvious difficulties surrounding such a unique event, the fan in me would love to see a single dirt race in each of the top three divisions. But realistically, I don't see its happen. And because of that, it really adds to the prestige of the Eldora Truck race because it truly is one-of-a-kind in modern day NASCAR.

Tim: I was working for NASCAR when the first race at Eldora was held and it was a great night for the series. Soon after that race, this question was posed. I think it would take away the significance of the event and as Jim said, the race is often a costly one for the owners. So I think this should be the only dirt race for any of NASCAR's national series.

Brad Keselowski was quoted after his accident two weeks ago that the series needed a new car. Do you agree or disagree and if you could make any changes to the car what would you say is needed the most at this time and why?

Jim: I don't necessarily believe the series needs a new car but I have said many times previously, it is time to stop with the piecemeal rules changes each season and make some wholesale changes to the aerodynamic rules packages of the car. I also don't think teams need four to five months’ notice on the new rules, either. The best teams in the business simply use that time to find ways to get around the new rules or makeup what they lose from them somewhere else. Racing has been at its best when teams have the least time to prepare for the conditions - you would be hard-pressed to find an example this season that disproves that theory.

Lee: o. I think Keselowski’s comments came in the heat of the moment. With what we’ve witnessed with the use of VHT, it’s prompted some longtime veterans in the garage to revisit the tire discussion. It’s unfair to put the onus entirely on Goodyear. But there must be other ways to improve grip with the cars and promote passing. 

Nick: They don't need a new car, but a revamped schedule. They've made aero package changes, but as we've already seen, teams will quickly regain that lost downforce through other means. No one complained about the racing at Sonoma and I'd bet money there will be no complaints after Watkins Glen. NASCAR needs less intermediate tracks. New Hampshire put on a great show, but it will have one of its dates taken and replaced with another 1.5 miler in 2018. It's frustrating to see. More short tracks and more road courses isn't a panacea to cure all problems with the the on-track product, but it would help a great deal.

Tim: I think Keselowski would take those comments back if he could as it was done in the heat of the moment and he was obviously frustrated. I don’t know what needs to be done to the cars, I think the tracks are more of a problem than the cars. But then again, I love short tracks and restrictor-plate racing because, in both venues, the drivers stay closer together which usually provides more action and passing throughout the field.

Rico Abreu will return to the Trucks this week at Eldora. Do you think we'll ever see him back in NASCAR full-time?

Jim: I hope so. Rico is a fan favorite and has quite a following. I would love to see him get another chance at Trucks or perhaps even a try in an Xfinity car. But we have to remember, just because someone is good in one discipline of motorsports, doesn't mean they will be in another. It's quite possible Rico has already discovered what he's best at. 

Lee: I asked Toyota Racing Development boss Dave Wilson about Rico on Saturday. Unfortunately, he didn’t have an answer. If given the opportunity to return to trucks, he would jump at the chance. I have never seen a driver come into a series and have such an immediate impact with the fans. NASCAR’s loss is open wheel’s gain. As for the truck race at Eldora, Abreu said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio he has one agenda on Wednesday night. “I’m going to win, that’s all I’m worried about,” Abreu said. 

Nick: As Lee pointed, his immediate popularity set him apart form many up-an-comers. He has made himself a household name on dirt and if he doesn't get another full-time opportunity in the sport, it will be NASCAR's loss.

Tim: I would love to see Rico back as he is good for the sport. He's a great racer and has a solid fan following that can only help NASCAR. I’m sure they’re working behind the scenes to put something together to get him back in a truck at some point full-time. Also, don’t be surprised if he ends up winning tonight at Eldora Speedway.

shares
comments
Dale Jr.'s wife: "It's not worth the risk" for him to run 2018 Clash
Previous article

Dale Jr.'s wife: "It's not worth the risk" for him to run 2018 Clash

Next article

NASCAR and Fanatics still searching for proper fit with fans

NASCAR and Fanatics still searching for proper fit with fans
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021