Turn 2 Blog: Too much teamwork? & Roval or Oval?

*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.

Do teams and/or manufacturers get too caught up in working together on the drafting tracks?

Richard: I think they absolutely do in the closing laps of the races held at Talladega and Daytona. I don’t blame the teams and manufacturers for working together during the first 450 miles of a race but once that last pit stop has been made, it’s every driver for himself. Trying to only move when those of the same car brand move can be a detriment.

And more than that, there is the problem of who gets to win if all the same team works together to get themselves in the front. As I was watching the YellaWood 500 from Talladega on Sunday and the four Hendrick Motorsports cars were in the mix, I was wondering how they would finish. Kyle Larson needed to win in order to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs yet Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman had not won at all this season. A win by William Byron would get him more Playoff points.

In the end, things fell apart for the HMS crowd and Byron ultimately pushed the Team Penske Ford of Ryan Blaney to the win. Of course, if only one team decides to do away with the strategy of working together that doesn’t mean the others will which could leave a driver alone on an island.

Yes, I think the teams and manufacturers do get too caught up in working together, but at the same time, it’s about their only choice.

Do teams put too much emphasis on working together at Talladega?(Getty Images)

Michael: I understand the thinking behind it, especially when making green flag pit stops. But I do think they make it a bigger deal than it is.

If helping the same manufacturer was such a big deal, you would think it would be the same at other tracks such as on restarts. Think about the final restart or two at a track like Kansas or Las Vegas. A Chevy driver is in the lead and takes the outside line, a Toyota driver is second and takes the inside line, and the third driver is a Chevy driver. If manufacturer collaboration was that important, the Chevy driver would take the outside of row 2. But that doesn’t always happen. It’s always every driver for himself. The same should apply to drafting tracks.

Charlotte Roval or Charlotte Oval?

Richard: A couple of years ago, I would fallen very much on the side of the Roval, but the NextGen car may have changed that for me. The makeshift road courses seem to have some issues in terms of being a bit too gimmicky, and as this year’s race at Indianapolis showed, not very competitive. Besides, the new car seems to have improved the racing on the 1.5-mile ovals.

As things are right now, I would probably choose the oval course at Charlotte Motor Speedway over the Roval. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some entertaining races there. Do-or-die wins by Kyle Larson in 2021 and Christopher Bell in 2022 come immediately to mind. But those would have provided the same type of scenario on either track.

I grew up as an oval racing fan but have grown to appreciate road courses more as the years have gone by. That was especially true with the previous car used by the NASCAR Cup Series. Ultimately, a race is a race. But given my druthers, I would choose to watch an event on the oval rather than the Roval.

Roval or Oval? (Getty Images)

Michael: I’m in the same boat as you. Under the Gen6 car, the racing on 1.5-mile tracks was lackluster for the most part. But that has changed with the NextGen. Plus, I think a lot of fans were tired of the Charlotte oval when it hosted two races and the All-Star race. With the All-Star race being moved around, two oval races at Charlotte are more appealing.

I just think these gimmicky type races are good for a year or two. After that, fans lose interest and are ready for something different or go back to how it used to be. The Roval is a legit road course, but still a bit too gimmicky. I’d rather see Road American, Montreal, or another permanent road course before I see another temporary road course.

What do you think of the recent announcements that the Clash is going back to the L.A. Coliseum and the All-Star Race is returning to North Wilkesboro?

Richard: As was the case with dirt racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, I think the Clash at the L.A. Coliseum is running the risk of overstaying its welcome. It was a hit the first year and did okay the second time around. I’m afraid the third time won’t be the charm unless they can get Taylor Swift to start dating one of the drivers and have her show up at the race. I think this would have been a good time to try another venue for the Clash.

As far as the All-Star Race returning to North Wilkesboro, it seems to have been an obvious choice to bring it back. The energy and atmosphere there were tremendous in the revival of that historic track. But again, there is always the risk of sticking with it one year too long.

I wouldn’t mind seeing them move those exhibition races around to somewhere like Nashville Fairgrounds or perhaps an actual dirt track.

The Clash is going back to the Coliseum(Getty Images)

Michael: I have to say I was disappointed when I saw the Clash was going back to the L.A. Coliseum. The first year of that location was cool because we got to see a new car at a new location. The second year was a night race. But the third year will be another copy of this past year unless they have targets for drivers to run over to score points like in video games.

I really believed North Wilkesboro was going to be on the Cup schedule in ’24, replacing Bristol in the spring. That still may happen in ’25 if the Bristol spring race only has 25k-30k fans like in 2019. I think the race will be more interesting because of the repave that will soon take place. While the ’23 edition was cool for the nostalgia, the racing itself wasn’t that great. Then again, the NextGen car has struggled to produce good racing on the short tracks.

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