Five top races to watch this year.
Fans are apt to see a really great race at any given track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, but some tracks generally provide more exciting racing than others.
With the debut of the Gen-6 (Generation 6) car that replaces the Car of Tomorrow, we may see an on-track product that is a game-changer from the type of racing we have been used to seeing since 2007. For instance, tracks that saw drivers play follow-the-leader for most of the race because of an inability to make quality passes may no longer have that kind of racing.
And certain races are just outstanding because of the combination of the track’s historical significance, the type of racing and the overall experience for the fan.
Here are five must-see races for 2013 that we know will produce a great show. They are races that also may be pivotal for the drivers.
Daytona 500, Feb. 24
The Daytona 500 is called the “Great American Race” for a plethora of reasons. It is the first points race of the season that is the highlight of Speedweeks in Daytona.
The winner of the race will forever be known as a Daytona 500 winner, which carries prestige unlike any other race.
Since the track is a super-speedway, there is a good chance that even the least likely driver to contend for a win could perhaps snag victory.
Races like the Sprint Unlimited (Shootout), qualifying races and pole qualifying all are great events that lead up to the big race. Pre-race activities provide a guaranteed great show for the fans.
The 2013 Daytona 500 should have even more twists and turns in the storylines with the new cars, and we will also get an idea which teams have best adapted to the change from the COT.
The first race of the season also previews how well driver and crew chief changes during the prior year may be playing out.
Southern 500 at Darlington, May 11
The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway has become a Mother’s Day weekend tradition at the track with the mantra of “Too Tough to Tame.”
The historic track in South Carolina always delivers wild racing, with few participants escaping the “Darlington stripe” on the right side of their car after contact with the fence.
There is a lot of prestige that goes with winning this race. The 1.366-mile egg-shaped track is a challenge for every team with its different configurations in the turns, which make it difficult to set up cars.
The track is called the “Lady in Black” because it is almost as though the track reaches out and lures the drivers into the wall. Racing is intense for the drivers, and that translates to a good show for the fans.
The race is run under the lights, which makes the cars look all the more brilliant.
This is one of the tracks that can be a real game-changer because contact among the participants is inevitable. It is not unusual to see tempers flare with some drivers on what is usually a hot Saturday night.
Bristol Night Race, Aug. 24
The sights and sounds of any race at the spectacular Bristol Motor Speedway is an experience never to be forgotten if you have the chance to attend an event in person.
The grandstands, which hold up to 160,000, rise up from the 0.533-mile concrete oval, creating the effect of being in a coliseum where warriors go to battle with 3,400-pound stock cars.
Bristol produced more interesting racing last year after management had the top groove ground down to reduce the progressive banking and allow for better racing.
The track still has steep banking for a short track, and the two pit roads make for tricky strategy calls. Pit stops can be critical at all races, but they become a bit more difficult at Bristol. This race comes within a couple races of the beginning of the Chase, so there is a great deal at stake for drivers trying to find victory and maintain points that will assure them their place in the Chase.
Richmond Fall Race, Sept. 7
Saturday night racing doesn’t get much better than the final preseason race at Richmond International Raceway, which sets the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
The 0.75-mile short track races very much like a superspeedway.
So much is at stake for drivers on this fast track.
The fanfare that surrounds the race winner and the 12-man field who will battle for the Cup championship make for quite the show.
Talladega Chase Race, Oct. 20
Talladega can only mean wild racing with dramatic incidents, and when it comes during the Chase, it can be pivotal in a driver’s chance of winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
Typical of superspeedway racing is the chance that nearly any of the players can end up in Victory Lane. The final lap can often yield a surprise, sometimes devastating ending to the race.
Though the fall race at Talladega is in the first half of the Chase, it can sometimes be very difficult for a driver to recover should he or she fall victim to one of the crashes that are sure to come.
On this high-banked track, even a blown tire can ruin the day for a driver. It is high-stakes racing that reeks of danger on every lap, and it is a show not to be missed.