1.5-mile trail renaissance dominates Round 8

Remember how – in years past – NASCAR’s mile-and-a-half circuits were among the most criticized circuits on the timeline?

All six tracks around the 1.5-mile mark faced the backlash of a lackluster race, but the emergence of the next-generation car marked a turning point for them—or at least for some of them.

With these tracks making up two-thirds of the NASCAR Cup 2022 Series Eighth Round qualifiers, let’s check out how they each spot a renaissance this year (with the exception of Homestead-Miami Speedway, which hasn’t held an official Cup race with the new car yet).

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Well, admittedly, this is a somewhat special case.

The Atlanta remodel turned the race into more of a superspeedway-style event, with close-pack races featured in plenty of races and some Talladega Superspeedway-esque accidents.

However, the race was a unique blend of the regular 1.5-mile action we are used to with mixed package races. It gave us potential for weak winners, last lap passes, and two (and sometimes three wide) runs.

Cory Lagoy threw his number seven into the mixing bag between the contenders a few months ago at ATL, and seemed to be in position to move to Chase Elliott for the closing laps until conditions sent his car around and the race finished off guard.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Although the Coca-Cola 600 is now the only trophy race we get on the Charlotte Oval these days, this year’s edition was one of all time.

In 11 races since the start of 2015 in Charlotte, four of them – more than a third – have featured the winner leading more than half of the race. Dominance was a major factor in North Carolina, yet this spring’s race was one of the fiercest of the year on any track design.

It featured the most warnings in any Charlotte Oval race since 2005, a ballpark flip from Chris Bucher, a four-part pass attempt in the Trivale (spoiler: didn’t go well) and a ton of on-track action that was unwavering in entertainment value. Added to this are 3,821 green cards, which ranks first in the past decade’s races at the North Carolina Oval.

This is correct I was A fairly grueling five hours, but it got me excited for the next 600 in a way I hadn’t in some time.

Kansas Speedway

After a long run of mediocre racing in Kansas, the 2022 was put on two barn burners—both, by chance, won by 23XI Racing.

Despite those mediocre races, the track has earned a reputation for bizarre violent crashes: Eric Almerola was injured, Eric Jones went by air in separate races in 2017 while William Byron ended up at the helm of Ryan Newman in 2018 and Ryan Press went indoors. wall at full speed in 2020.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case in 2022, but the hard and exciting races were. Kurt Busch competed with Kyle Larson and brother Kyle Busch throughout the race in the spring, dropping again but climbing forward again and claiming his first 23XI win by hoisting a flag.

A few months later, teammate Bubba Wallace overtook Alex Bowman with speed late in the race and stopped team owner Denny Hamlin for his second win of his career.

Texas Motor Speedway

There’s not much to say here, because Neither Racing in Texas has been great this year.

The All-Star race was a strange evening, as Ryan Blaney’s dominance was almost derailed by a window catastrophe.

But this was an all-star race, wasn’t it? Strange formatting, fewer cars, general weird events?

Nah, the subsequent race was even more bizarre.

The Texas fall race turned into controversy, chaos and chaos, chief among them the Hamlin Byron incident. Byron rolled Hamlin under caution and it looks like NASCAR got the whole thing wrong, causing a penalty days later and then part cancellation a week later.

At about the same time, Ty Gibbs veered alongside Ty Dillon on a pit road, perilously close to injuring crew members and officials servicing the other cars.

After four-and-a-half marathons, Tyler Riddick emerged the winner in a race that stretched into the night and finished under the lights.

It’s very difficult to count Texas in the “enhanced” category, given the general quirky nature of both events and the fact that the All-Star race doesn’t really matter.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Although there has only been one race in Sin City so far this year for the Cup Series, it was an exciting race that presented two all-out battles for his teammates for the lead in the closing laps.

After a lengthy duel between fellow Joe Gibbs Racing Bosch and Martin Truex Jr – in which the No. 19 caught Bush in the lead with nearly 10 laps – he was cautioned and threw a massive wrench into everyone’s plans.

This meant that Hendrick Motorsports teammates Larson and Bowman were able to jump them for the lead with pit strategy and sort it out among themselves, but it wasn’t easy for the eventual winner Bowman: He and Larson were almost side by side. The entire penalty shootout, with the 48th player getting the edge late and crossing under the checkered flag before the defending winner of Vegas Spring.

This was probably Truex’s best chance of winning this season so far, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on top again this weekend.

Unfortunately we don’t have much to go for at Homestead-Miami, but given the improvements across the mile and a half trails we’ve seen throughout the season, my hopes were raised.

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