Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – LOUDON, NH – This weekend’s racing was for lack of a better word, magical. That hasn’t always been the case at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, at least not for the top series of NASCAR.
While the flat one mile oval has always been known for the spectacular NASCAR modified races held every year, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has had a spotted past with the New England facility. Let’s analyze the one and only weekend the stars of the Cup Series will take laps in Loudon by looking back at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Each race over the three days in New Hampshire featured exciting competition, an unexpected amount of passing and the notable PJ1 track grip enhancer that gave fans a multi-groove racing surface. The track itself did an amazing job of preparing the racing surface to give fans exactly the kind of show they’ve wanted for many years from New Hampshire.
If moving to a single race date per year means the track can focus all its resources on producing that kind of racing every time, I say so be it. I’m all for more racing but I prefer more good racing. That’s what it seems we’re going to get from New Hampshire. Less racing, but more good racing.
Here is your reminder that Ryan Preece is still looking for a full-time ride in NASCAR’s XFINITY series. The Connecticut native has two wins in just nine starts for Joe Gibbs Racing, has one of the most rabid fan bases in the entire country behind him and still is somehow looking for an opportunity to be sure of his position in this sport.
It’s a difficult accomplishment right now for Motorsports to be a flourishing and successful career for anyone. However I’ve seen very few with such marketing potential, outreach to the fan base, flat out skill behind the wheel and an all around positive attitude not even receive offers. Somehow, the equation needs to change because NASCAR, the fans and the XFINITY Series itself needs Ryan Preece in a top tier car on the track every time they take the green flag.
Stewart Friesen is a great example of a truly talented short track racer getting all the planets aligned and making something out of it. His Halmar-Friesen Racing team has frankly punched far above its weight in such a short time and is now in the situation where they are legitimately frustrated they haven’t found victory lane. Preece has, twice, in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment. This story shouldn’t even exist at this point. Yet here we are.
The topic of whether or not a One mile track should be considered a short track was thrown around often at New Hampshire and as someone from the short tracks of the North East, I must say stop it. Maybe it’s one of the shorter tracks on the Cup Series schedule now that the traditional short track is a lesser part of the sport. It’s still not a short track.
This isn’t some elitist rant about people making crap up as they go along, instead it’s a matter of perspective. The Cup Series runs only 6 legitimate short track events per year. Martinsville, Bristol and Richmond twice each. In comparison to the 1.5 mile, 2 mile and 2.5 mile high speed ovals these teams compete on, sure it’s one of the shorter tracks in the series.
However ask any short track racer across the United States or Canada what a short track is and they’ll tell you it’s any track under one mile. One mile tracks in the history of auto racing have been the special events. Higher speed races for the short track crowd than what they see all season long on a regular basis.
Springfield and DuQuoin, Syracuse, Milwaukee, New Hampshire and Phoenix. These tracks were once the vast majority of larger facilities before the “intermediate track” began to dominate the landscape of mainstream oval racing. Special events like the Syracuse 200 or the Copper World Classic have gone by the wayside in recent years due to a myriad of issues ranging from political to financial. However the idea that a one mile track should be called a short track isn’t one that sits very well.
These one mile tracks, as rare as they have become, are the true “intermediate” race track. They embody a Super Speedway feel to the short trackers, and a short track feel to the top tier forms of oval racing that consider it one of their smaller venues.