Turn 2 Blog: Formula 1 is Trendy for Now & A Throwback to … Yourself?

*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideCircleTrack.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the NASCAR and pavement short track racing topics of the day.

This weekend saw the unusual circumstance of a NASCAR Cup Series race and a Formula 1 event running in the same country at the same time. Will more F1 races planned for the United States have any impact on NASCAR?

Richard: Formula 1 is the trendy thing to do now in the U.S. for some because of the NetFlix docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’. It was unfortunate for those who enjoy both that the races started at the same time, and since the Miami Grand Prix was so heavily hyped, it may have had some impact on NASCAR’s ratings this week. And more, the F1 race remained competitive enough after a late caution car to keep the attention of viewers all the way to the end.

No doubt, the higher ups in the motorsports business were watching carefully.

Formula 1 had always appealed to a particular audience being primarily a European-based form of racing. However, that is changing as their races are reaching into different parts of the world. There are even rumors that such legendary venues as Monaco and Spa may not be guaranteed a place on the schedule in future seasons. And of course, America brings much money to the table which is something that will get the FIA’s attention.

There are some NASCAR fans who will never pay very much attention to Formula 1 and there are some Formula 1 fans who would never pay attention to NASCAR. But there are at least some crossover fans who watch both and that’s where the competition will be.

It will be interesting later this week when the ratings are released.

Michael: As more and more NASCAR fans don’t like some of the changes NASCAR has made, and continues to make, those fans could look elsewhere for their motorsports fix. F1 could be it because of the added exposure you mentioned.

I noticed on several social media accounts covering the F1 race there were a number of celebrities from music, movies, and other sports that went to Miami to take in the spectacle. Even the Daytona 500 doesn’t take in what F1 did on Sunday. I think location had a lot to do with that as well. I don’t remember the amount of celebrities going to Austin for the first race at COTA.

F1 is a trendy sport right now. If fans that venture over to it see some of the politics that go into that form of racing, it could cause many of those to not stick with it very long. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the team orders that take place in F1.

NASCAR always notices when someone starts nibbling into their numbers. I think that’s one reason why we are now seeing Cup races on dirt.

This past weekend featured the Throwback race for NASCAR at Darlington Raceway. Is that theme still relevant?

Richard: When the Throwback race was a new thing, there were some great schemes as teams featured looks that reminded fans of legendary drivers and great moments from the past. It was cool to see cars that looked like those driven by Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, Waltrip and Earnhardt. But now that those have been done, teams are starting to stray from those types of schemes to more obscure stylings.

Of course, sponsors have a great deal of money invested in these cars so they are going to have a say in how the cars look. There were some teams in the Goodyear 400 that were throwing back to their own scheme of a few years ago. That’s just silly.

Some drivers have even gone to replicating schemes from their Bandolero days. That does not seem to be within the spirit of what throwbacks were meant to be as no one except family members remember those.

This seems more like something that could be done every couple of years rather than an annual thing.

The scheme used by Denny Hamlin was one that the No. 11 team had used a few years ago(Photo: Getty Images)

Michael: I love the throwback weekend. But it seems like they have done many of the popular ones and more memorable ones. I’d have to think hard or look back on some old programs to see if there are any that haven’t been done.

One negative to the throwbacks now, especially in Cup, is the number location. If they’d allow the teams to place the numbers on the door, it would be a true throwback.

A throwback of your own old scheme is silly and lazy. Find something different or don’t do one at all.

Attrition at Darlington played no favorites on Sunday as some of the biggest names in the sport were affected. Has the Next Gen brought about a return of “The Track Too Tough to Tame”?

Richard: The Next Gen has played to mixed reviews so far during the 2022 season. The racing at some tracks such as Auto Club Speedway has been very good while others such as Martinsville Speedway were not as good as in the past. And it’s really too early to tell whether or not the way Sunday’s Goodyear 400 played out had anything to do with the new NASCAR Cup Series car. Either way, however, Darlington did live up to its “Too Tough to Tame” moniker.

As was the case back in the old days when “The Lady in Black” earned her fierce reputation, attrition played no favorites as some of the biggest names in the sport were either knocked completely from the race or were damaged so badly they were unable to keep pace. Both Busch brothers, Larson, Chastain, Keselowski, Hamlin, Truex, Bowman and Wallace were all bitten by the attrition bug.

This car, at times, has proven to be tough to handle. And of all the tracks employed in the sport, this is one that would seem to be most feared by drivers and teams.

Again, I don’t know if it was the Next Gen’s doing it or not but I definitely liked seeing the old Darlington back. This sport is not supposed to be easy and victories are supposed to be earned. No track puts that to the test more than this one and it lived up to its reputation on Sunday.

Michael: A complaint about the last car was they were difficult to spin out. It looked as though a driver couldn’t spin one out if they wanted to. That is not the case with the Next Gen car.

I felt like the cars were getting too easy to drive with the Gen 6, especially at a track like Darlington. There were a few drivers I thought would struggle with the new car that have not. And there are a few struggling that I didn’t think would struggle.

Except for Richmond and Martinsville, I have been pleased with the Next Gen car to this point. The next big tests will be the next two points races – Kansas and Charlotte. Those are the types of tracks that saw boring races over the past few years. If the 1.5-mile tracks can’t produce good racing with this car, they need to go back to the drawing board.

Please consider also reading:

Turn 2 Blog: Is Mike Marlar underrated?

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