Hot Laps Infineon Edition

Let's be complete honest about this subject. There is only one reason why NASCAR takes its top two series to road courses.

Location, location, location.

The notion that the sanctioning body is interested in diversifying its schedules so that it is a true reflection of varied competition is wrong.

NASCAR takes the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series to a combined four road courses in 2010 for only one reason - to expand the exposure of the sport.

I know all about racing on the beach and running through the hills of the Southeast in the moonshine days and NASCAR's long history of racing at Riverside International Raceway back in the day.

None of that is the reason Infineon, Watkins Glen, Montreal and now Road America are on the schedules.

When Riverside shut its doors in the late 1980s, NASCAR - and rightfully so - did not want to lose the California market. Unfortunately there weren't any oval tracks suitable to host the Cup Series in the Golden State so what was then known as Sears Point Int'l Raceway was added to the calendar and the lucrative Northern California market was served.

Ditto with Watkins Glen, which at the time was the only venue available to bring Sprint Cup racing to the Northeast when the historic road course was put on the slate.

Bringing NASCAR to Canada is a great idea but again there aren't any ovals that can host the Nationwide Series north of the border so the series now visits Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve.

And when the Milwaukee Mile had its latest bout of financial problems, NASCAR stayed in the popular Wisconsin area with this past weekend's inaugural visit to the sprawling Road America road course.

In most all cases the style of racing just isn't suited to the lumbering stock cars and more often than not we get tedious and boring events, only recently spiced up some by the double file restart rule.

I've warmed up to watching NASCAR go road racing some but still believe the sport was founded on oval tracks and should stay there.

Road courses are for cars designed to compete in that style of racing. You don't see the sports cars of the Rolex Grand Am Series with an oval track on its schedule for a good reason - those machines are purposely built to compete going left and right.

Stock cars are not. And when they need to be modified it gets expensive. Kenny Wallace said over the weekend his Nationwide team had to spend $40,000 just for a brake package.

The marriage of NASCAR and road courses is a forced one. It's done out of necessity to keep the sport a national - and international - entity.

But I'd sure like to see four more ovals in the place of the current quartet of road courses.

  • I don't really agree with NASCAR's ruling that took Marcos Ambrose out of the lead for not keeping pace under caution and all but handed Sunday's win to Jimmie Johnson. Remember back in 2007 at Kansas when Greg Biffle was trying to save fuel as the field coasted to the finish line only to be passed by Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer? If that was deemed keeping pace how could Ambrose have been penalized?

  • Both of the weekend's road course races featured red flags to clean up major accidents. Forget restrictor plate racing, road courses are just as expensive on the repair front.

  • Joe Gibbs Racing would just as soon forget Sunday's trip to Infineon after the rough days of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. One thing the road course stops do most of the time is reach out and bite drivers and teams who come in on hot streaks. Nobody was hotter than Hanlin until Sonoma.
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    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2010

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