While 2018 marks the first time in four years that NASCAR hasn’t made any large scale changes to their playoff system, segment racing or rules, it is also the first year that NASCAR has made some pretty bold changes to their playoff schedule as well. Of course the first big change occurred a few years ago, when NASCAR swamped New Hampshire for Chicagoland, but that pales in comparison to what NASCAR did this year.
, NASCAR’s first round of the 2018 playoffs now consists of a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a night race at Richmond and for the first time ever, a Charlotte Motor Speedway road course! Not only are these additions to the playoff a great way to switch things up and move closer to the perfect post season schedule, it also begs the question of what other races need to be eliminated in order to make room for more exciting races.
5. Kansas Motor Speedway replaced by Bristol
Sure, some might think that the addition of a third short track race is overkill in the playoffs, but when you consider the cluster of cookie cutter tracks that are used during the post season, it really doesn’t seem all that obsessive. In fact, having Bristol Motor Speedway in the playoffs would be a great way to create more exciting racing into the postseason and maybe even open the door to more rivalries.
As for Kansas Motor Speedway, it has served as a fine playoff host for the last couple of years, but just doesn’t emit the same amount of energy that a race at Bristol would. Maybe some fans will disagree and point to the multiple racing lanes available at KMS and the high speeds that only add to the intrigue of the race, but it just doesn’t compare to having championship contenders battle it out in the quarter mile bull ring that is Bristol.
4. Dover International Raceway replaced by Michigan
Dover International Raceway is one of the most unique tracks on NASCAR circuit, especially with its high speeds, high banking and its short track feel, but it hasn’t always produced the best results when it comes to the playoffs. Not only that, it is also one of those tracks that isn’t really capable of bringing in casual viewers to watch the most intense time of The NASCAR season.
With that being said and the hope one day being that NASCAR can use its playoff schedule to show just how unique and intense NASCAR can be, changing the race to Michigan International Speedway would be the best way to make that happen. In the end, the high speeds, great restarts and thrilling race strategies that would play out during a playoff Michigan race would be enough to captivate newer fans for years to come.
3. ISM Replaced by Auto Club Speedway
There needs to be more action during The NASCAR playoffs and while Phoenix has played host to some exciting moments in the past, moving the race to Auto Club Speedway allows for higher speeds, more strategy and the addition of multiple driving lanes! Then there are the restarts, which have been known to feature drivers going four or five wide for the lead in the first turn.
Either way, its a recipe for something special for NASCAR fans to see and will really work to give the playoffs that wild card factor that isn’t seen at very many tracks anymore. Again, this doesn’t mean that Phoenix hasn’t been a great playoff track over the years, especially after the Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer incident that brought fans to their feet, but things also need to be changed every once in a while!
2. Talladega Superspeedway replace by Watkins Glen/Sonoma.
Talladega has been known as the wild card factor in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, but it has also proven to be one of the most dangerous and luck based races in NASCAR history. Unfortunately for the 2.5 mile super speedway that has played host to some of the greatest finishes in NASCAR history, it is an unfair way to determine who moves on in a preliminary round and needs to be switched with something else.
With that being said and one road course already being inserted in the ten race playoff format that closes out The Monster Energy Cup Series season, why not add another one in order to continue breaking up the constant barrage of cookie cutter tracks? In fact, why not continue to switch between Watkins Glen and Sonoma to add to the excitement and unpredictability of the playoffs?
1 Homestead Miami Speedway Replaced by Daytona International Speedway
Homestead Miami Speedway is not the end of season race that NASCAR fans deserve after a grueling 36 race schedule. Furthermore, while Homestead Miami has created some very memorable championship races over the past four years, its hard to argue that it was due to the track layout alone. In fact, a larger factor could be the heads up championship format that was created in 2014, which means NASCAR would have the same result at any track.
With that being said and some fans dissatisfied with Homestead Miami hosting the season finale every year, why not change the final race to Daytona International Speedway. Not only would Daytona serve as a more interesting final race due to the addition of pack racing and gusty moves to grab the lead in the final moments of the race, it also makes sense for NASCAR to finally have its version of The Superbowl at the end of the season.