The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race this past Saturday at North Wilkesboro Speedway played out in front of one of the most enthusiastic crowds that particular series has seen in quite some time. Granted, there was the nostalgia element of having racing return to one of the sport’s original facilities after an absence of more than a quarter-century. Still, that race exemplified something that both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Truck Series need more of – enthusiasm.
In my opinion, there is a way in which that sort of enthusiasm can be replicated.
For quite some time I have advocated for those two tours, on occasion, to be separated from the NASCAR Cup Series. I personally don’t see a need for the Trucks to be racing at places like Daytona, Talladega, Texas or Michigan(for example) in front of mostly vacant grandstands. Instead, races at smaller venues with a higher percentage of seats being occupied would seem to serve both tours better.
Places such as Nashville Fairgrounds, Hickory Motor Speedway, Five Flags Speedway, South Boston Speedway, Winchester Speedway or Slinger Speedway are just a few examples of tracks that could provide similar energy as what was seen this past Saturday. Incorporating one or more of these tracks into the schedule would not have to be a permanent thing. They could be set up on some sort of rotating basis so that the novelty of hosting a NASCAR event could be maintained over a longer period of time.
For those venues, either the Xfinity Series or the Truck Series could serve as one of their premier events of the season and would likely generate the same sort of excitement as the SRX races that several of those places have provided.
Of course, one concern might be the lack of pit crew members who would be available if those series were to be separated from the Cup Series. As was shown at North Wilkesboro during wet conditions, non competitive, or controlled, pit stops could be an option.
As for the Cup Series tracks that want an event for Saturday, at least one of the two series could always be made available for that purpose. And more, separation of the series could give NASCAR and its stake holders an opportunity to be creative with the premier series by providing offerings such as heat races, pit crew challenges, and other forms of competition.
Instead of other races, tracks might even consider concerts on the day or night before a race to generate revenue. Perhaps an open house type of day in which the cars could be made available for fans to get a close up view of along with drivers and crew members making appearances for photo and autograph sessions.
This is not to say that the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series should be completely divorced from the NASCAR Cup Series. However, a few weekends in which those tours get the spotlight to themselves at a locale that probably would never get to host a major NASCAR event otherwise could create much goodwill for the sport and perhaps even broaden or energize the fanbase.
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Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.
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