The NASCAR community is often guilty of the ‘Shiny New Thing Syndrome.’ Whether in the industry or the grandstands, wave around something different and new, and the mania begins.
New drivers. New cars. New rules. New tracks. As soon as something breaks away from the norm, we become as excited as Dale Earnhardt Jr. when he gets to say slide job on a broadcast.
Over the weekend, the shiny new thing was the Daytona road course. Fourteen turns with a tight technical infield at a famed Florida speedway and used for stock cars for the first time. Road course racing! No practice! Enter Turn 1 at your own risk!
For the most part, the weekend action seemed to be well received. I say for the most part because judging by some social media chatter late Sunday night, some fumed the television coverage could have been better. And that was excluding having no post-race coverage, which for NBC Sports was the absolute worst-case scenario with a hard out because of local and national news plus the NHL Playoffs.
For clarity, I was amongst the few who were covering the race from the Daytona press box, so I can’t speak to the television coverage as I got to watch the race with bright, wide eyes that waited for mayhem. But mayhem stayed home, and good racing showed up. Good, not great. But again, from a viewpoint above the racetrack, it was enjoyable to watch.
All three NASCAR national series showed themselves well, and the field in Friday night’s ARCA Series race also deserves kudos. Those drivers are often expected and sometimes unfairly predicted to be less than entertaining, but their race was clean and fun in wet conditions. Job well done, young guns.
It didn’t take long for the future of the shiny new thing to be brought up. Chase Elliott took the checkered flag shortly before 6:30 p.m. ET, and by 6:45 p.m. ET, NASCAR’s Scott Miller was asked about the potential for the Daytona road course being put on the schedule going forward. Remember, Daytona is a one-off to replace Watkins Glen, where the sport couldn’t get to this season.
“Well, I think that we certainly proved that it works, and we can put on an exciting show here,” said Miller. “I’m sure it will go into the talks of consideration for us coming back.”
Daytona is now “one of my favorite road courses I’ve run,” said Denny Hamlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver used his post-race media availability to express his hope that it gets put on the schedule and has been saying the same on Twitter.
Martin Truex Jr. admitted he had more fun than he anticipated. Truex thought the Cup Series race was good without a ton of crashes and drivers doing crazy stuff.
“I thought the race went really well,” he said. “The racing was good. You could make passes if you were faster than a guy, and that’s always, as a competitor, what you’re looking for, and I think that’s what puts on a good show. So, I’d be totally fine with it (being on the schedule).”
Joey Logano and Michael McDowell also gave the Daytona road course their thumbs up. Unless something changes, there will be at least one more Cup Series race on the course with the non-points Busch Clash contested on it in February.
Daytona might have high banks and be inside an already established oval (wait, I think there is a name for that. Roval, is it?), but it raced like a legitimate road course. Ideally, NASCAR would look at road courses all over the country, or return to Montreal, but if they are going to keep with venues they have then Daytona will do. It would be better than nothing.
Sonoma, Watkins Glen, and the Charlotte Roval aren’t enough. The Cup schedule could use more road course races and fewer intermediates. The Xfinity Series schedule has more road courses on it than the Cup schedule! Confession, I say all of this while wearing a t-shirt that demands, ‘More Road Courses.’
Yes, I, too, have ‘Shiny New Thing Syndrome’ this week. But in this case, it’s worth looking at making the Daytona road course a worn-out old habit.