Opinion: 5 NASCAR Races Not to Miss
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on January 3, 2014 | 9:56 A.M. EST
The Daytona 500 is one of the five races Pete Pistone says you should not miss this season. (Photo: Getty Images)
The new NASCAR season has much to look forward to and fans should mark their calendars for this quintet of races.
The biggest race of the NASCAR season kicks off the campaign on Feb. 23rd at “The World Center of Racing.” After a week’s worth of practice, qualifying and preliminary events, fans will get their first chance to see the 2014 Sprint Cup Series field in action. Last year’s 500 left some flat with not as much side-by-side racing on display as in the past. With teams having a year with the Gen-6 car and the addition of a slightly taller spoiler - which should provide more downforce and better handling - the hope is “The Great American Race” will live up to expectations and set the tone for the season.
Auto Club 400
The 2013 trek to Auto Club Speedway in Southern California was one for the ages and easily the best race of the season. Will lightning strike again this year? The 2-mile track’s worn surface and multiple grooves should once again add up to some wild racing. As always, pit strategy and potential fuel mileage will be in the mix as well. Maybe by the time race No. 5 of the campaign rolls around, there will be a couple of drivers not exactly seeing eye to eye. One thing is for sure; the restarts at ACS are always crazy.
The inaugural Camping World Truck Series at Eldora Speedway was a resounding success. Now comes the time to answer the question of whether trucks racing on dirt is a novelty or something fans want on an annual basis. My guess is the latter. Sure there was a curiosity factor in 2013 just to see if NASCAR and the drivers could pull it off. The racing was so exciting and thrilling that there’s no reason to believe the same entertainment value won’t be there again. Like the NHL’s Winter Classic, NASCAR’s yearly foray to dirt track racing should be a fan favorite for years to come.
IRWIN Tools Night Race
Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway has been in the spotlight for the last two years through Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Bruton Smith’s attempt to spice up the proceedings through reconfiguration. Truth be told the physical changes to the layout haven’t changed the on-track product all that much. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bristol continues to produce tight competition and thrilling action even if the bumping and grinding that results in 20 or more cautions is gone. Today’s Bristol really combines the best of both worlds - the old and new “Thunder Valley” – and the annual late summer date under the lights is still one of the schedule’s crown jewels.
Homestead-Miami Speedway continues to be the perfect place to bring down the curtain on the NASCAR season. From a weather perspective the conditions are ideal, and there isn’t another area of the country better suited to host a mid-November sporting event than South Florida. Homestead has blossomed into the best 1.5-mile track competition-wise in the sport with its progressive banking and multiple grooves. Even if NASCAR’s effort to improve intermediate track racing falls flat, fans should be able to count on Homestead to create an action-packed season-ending weekend. With the championships on the line in all three top national divisions, HMS will have the chance to once again put an exclamation point on the season’s story lines.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.