November 28, 2011
So the season's over. So what? No reason we can't do more Power Rankings. Let's start by running down the top 10 tracks now on the Sprint Cup circuit. Close your eyes, and you can almost smell the burning rubber ...
1. Talladega. Hands down, my favorite track on the schedule for so many reasons. (Note: 2x2 racing is NOT one of those reasons. I'm basing this rating on accrued goodwill, not current performance.) I love everything about this place: the way you can see the campfire smoke from miles away as you approach on the highway, the bizarre subculture of the 'Dega infield, the way cars go four- and five-wide coming out of Turn 4 ... and, oh yeah, the potential for epic wrecks. Yeah, I said it. Talladega rules.
2. Daytona. The legend. Everything about this place is larger than life, from the history to the spectacle. You owe it to yourself to get here at least once. But I'd advise against going deep into the infield in Turn 3. It's like a whole different society out there. Still, find your way to Daytona when you can. You won't ever regret it.
3. Bristol. Short-track bliss. When the stands are full, it's like nowhere else on the planet. The idea of 160,000 NASCAR fans in one place might horrify some segments of our society, but oh, if you let yourself get swept up in the noise and wreckage, it's bliss. Just don't plan on getting home anytime soon.
4. Atlanta. A sentimental choice, as it was the first Sprint Cup-level track at which I caught races. But it's got plenty of pedigree, as it served for years as the host of the season finale, and it also stands as the fastest regular track on the circuit. Now, Bruton Smith, how about bringing back that second date, huh?
5. Indianapolis. A motorsports legend, this track is another must-visit on the proverbial Bucket List. Opinions are divided on how suited it is for NASCAR driving, but ask any driver and they'll tell you this race is near the top of their to-win list.
6. Richmond. Some of the most rabid NASCAR fans on the planet live close to this track, the kind of people who won't buy NASCAR jackets, they'll tattoo images of the jackets onto their very skin. And this short-track joy gives you a great angle of sight to every corner of the track. What could be better?
7. Darlington. Some tracks on this list are all about sleek speed. This one ain't. A Darlington stripe is a badge of ... well, not honor, because pretty much everyone gets one. But it's a badge of something. I guess it's a badge that you were able to keep your car from wrenching itself open like a can of soup. Plus, between "The Lady In Black," "The Track Too Tough To Tame," and the aforementioned stripe, it boasts the best collection of nicknames anywhere.
8. Texas. Sure, it's another of the 1.5-mile cookie-cutter tracks, but Texas makes the list because of its near-constant promotion and fan-oriented approach. Whether you see a great race at Texas is almost irrelevant; you'll have a memorable experience, and hell, that's half of what we follow this sport for anyway, right?
9. Infineon. You've got to love the road courses. It's a law. And Infineon gets an ever-so-slight edge over Watkins Glen because the Glen hasn't opened "The Boot," a twisting extra mile, to NASCAR ... yet. Infineon's Turn 11, the hairpin, is where you can really get some anger out of the way ... as well as some opposing drivers.
10. Las Vegas. You may love it, you may hate it, but the Neon Garage, which gives fans an up-close yet sanitized look at the world of racing, is quite possibly the future of motorsports. All the sights and sounds but very few of the smells and absolutely none of the grime ... it's racing your non-race fan friends could love!
All right, your turn. Where are your favorite tracks? Which would you add, and which would you move around? (And no, I didn't forget Martinsville. That track just ain't for me.) Have at it!
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 24 2012
Posted Jun 23 2012