A NASCAR calendar change for 2021 could clear the path for something fans and drivers have wanted to see for years: A Cup race on the U.S.’s lone purpose-built Formula One track.
According to a report by The Athletic, Texas Motor Speedway will host next year’s All-Star Race but lose one of its two Cup Series points races, thus clearing the way for a Cup race at Texas’ Circuit of the Americas.
The All-Star Race is an exhibition race that’s being offered as a concession for TMS losing one of its points races, which will no doubt be a very, very sore spot for TMS if one of those races goes to COTA. TMS president Eddie Gossage has vehemently opposed both IndyCar and NASCAR going to COTA over the years, complaining that the three-plus hour drive from TMS in Ft. Worth to COTA in Austin is too close and would saturate the market such that fans would have to pick and choose which races to attend. (Never mind that they’re two different kinds of tracks entirely.)
To the contrary, this would give more folks in the southern half of the state who can’t or won’t spend that much time making the irritating slog up Interstate 35 an opportunity to watch some NASCAR. Take it from someone who lives here: Not even the Czech Stop makes I-35 even a meh drive, much less an enjoyable one, and the Czech Stop is one of the few pure, wholesome goods on this toilet earth. (Yet I’ll still do it because race car.)
Gossage already lost that battle with IndyCar, which started coming to COTA in 2019. It’s about time NASCAR gave it a run. Former NASCAR racer and current team owner Tony Stewart drove in a Haas demonstration run at COTA in a NASCAR stock car and said that the track had several great spots for passing and would be well-suited to NASCAR racing, The Athletic notes.
It’s worth noting that this is still just a report, although an announcement confirming the 2021 schedule is expected later this week. NASCAR has been looking to mix up its schedule for a while, and moving a points race from a 1.5-mile track (of which there are so many that fans call them “cookie-cutter” tracks) to a road course (which fans have clamored for more of for years) sounds like a ton of fun.