NASCAR Drivers Split on Road Course-Heavy Schedule

Indianapolis Road Course

Getty Cup Series drivers race at the Indianapolis Road Course.

The NASCAR Cup Series drivers took on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Sunday, Aug. 15. The early portions of the race featured exciting passes while the end devolved into utter carnage in the final stage due to curbing on Turns 5 and 6. This race only continued the conversation about the number of road courses on the schedule and whether the drivers enjoy them.

Speaking with NBC Sports, multiple drivers expressed their opinions about the number of road course races on the schedule. Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher said that he would be fine with fewer than seven while Daniel Suarez took a different approach. The Trackhouse Racing driver envisioned a scenario where the schedule features 10 road courses.

“It’s a little bit too much,” Buescher told NBC Sports. “I’m a road course fan, so I enjoy doing it four or five times a year, but this is enough and maybe a little bit on the high side for my liking.

“I feel like the majority of drivers would say the same thing. I know we’ve got a handful of people that are really good on road courses and probably would like to run more, but I’m a short track racer by trade. That’s what I grew up doing, and that’s what I want to do more of.”

Road Course Races Could Soon Change

While the drivers have split opinions about the road courses, there is another that can see how the actual races could soon change. According to Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, the Next Gen car will shake up the action on the track.

“I think the NextGen car is going to make the [road] courses better as a driver,” Byron told NBC Sports. “They might be a little more spread out because they’re going to be easier to drive.”

Byron continued and explained that the current stock cars struggle on the road courses due to the inability to navigate them around the tight turns. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet added that the brakes lock up and that there are mechanical issues that arise. He does not believe that the Next Gen cars will have the same issues in 2022 and beyond.

1 Road Course Remains on the 2021 Schedule

The Cup Series drivers have taken on six road courses so far in 2021. They first headed to the Daytona Road Course on Feb. 21 then took on Circuit of the Americas (May 23), Sonoma Raceway (June 6), Road America (July 4), Watkins Glen International (Aug. 8), and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Aug. 15).

The lone remaining road course on the schedule in 2021 is the Charlotte Roval. The drivers will head to the road course on Oct. 10 for the final race of the Round of 10 as they fight to stay above the cut line.

NASCAR has a limited history at the Charlotte Roval. Ryan Blaney won the inaugural race in 2018, holding off Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer to move on to the next round of the playoffs. Chase Elliott then won the next two playoff races at the Charlotte Roval and will enter the race as the favorite regardless if he is still above the cut line.

There is no information currently available concerning the number of road courses in 2022. NASCAR will let the fans know with the release of the schedule in the coming weeks.

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