IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 25: Favorite NASCAR race memory?
The question of the day : With the NASCAR Cup Series moving the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, August 15, what’s your favorite NASCAR road racing memory, be it a moment, a race, or a driver?
Curt Cavin: Rather than focusing on one race, let me highlight a series. As most of our readers know, NASCAR has gone through a period of hosting two Cup Series road races per year, at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. While I spent the first part of my journalistic career covering Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and other USAC stars on short tracks across the Midwest, I thought their talent was superior to the pilots. Southern stock cars from the 1980s and 1990s. This was proven in Cup road races from 1997 to 2009. In that streak, Gordon and Stewart won 16 of 25 races, Kasey Kahne won one. Gordon has won six straight road races – three from pole – and combined with Stewart to have a streak of five consecutive races. At Sonoma, the duo have won four in a row and seven in nine years, and at Watkins Glen, they have won five in eight years. It was quite the race for some of the best in USAC.
Zach Horrall: Course ringtones on the road. NASCAR road racing has changed over the years, but not in a bad way. These days it’s an ultra-competitive field with drivers now realizing that they need to be able to compete and win road races. Case in point: Kyle Larson won last month’s race at Sonoma Raceway. But in the 2000s, NASCAR was dominated by Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, as Curt said. As Jeff Gordon’s superfan, it was fun to watch. But I also loved seeing riders from other disciplines come to Sonoma and Watkins Glen and give their all. Pilots like Ron Fellows, Boris Said, PJ Jones, Scott Pruett and many more. These pilots gave their all and they were always good scenarios to follow. They were often competitive, finishing in the top 5 and top 10.
Paul Kelly: OK, this question answers my love of the dark, so bear with me. One of my favorite courses in North America is Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, better known as Mosport, which is about 40 miles east of Toronto. It has been hosting the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2013, with a hiatus this year and into 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The circuit, which hosted Formula 1 and the INDYCAR SERIES in the 1960s and 1970s, is fast and smooth with minimal runoff area. It is not for the faint of heart. The last corner, a hard right turn leading to the main straight, is almost guaranteed to create some action, and it always is with NASCAR trucks. Fair watch this video to see some of the crazy, full-touch finishes over the past few years, including pilots such as Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric and Ty Dillon. My favorite came in 2016, when Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek produced a final checkered dash straight out of “Days of Thunder”. I was working on an IMSA support run this weekend and saw the chaos unfold before my eyes through the windows of the media center. I will always remember this finish.