Hot 20 – Martinsville has to stay, but there is room for improvement in the NASCAR schedule

by Ron Thornton On Wed, Oct. 25, 2017

The Bandit Flight team performs a fly-over during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 30, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Thirty-six races. A few are great venues that produce very entertaining television events. A lot more are not. Some tracks have two events, and you wonder why. Some have two and you wonder…why not three? As our Hot 20 venture to Martinsville on Sunday to open the Round of Eight, would NASCAR be more appealing if we kept 36 races, but ran more of them at tracks people want to see races run? How about nine of them at NASCAR’s three most fan-favored venues?

If they put me in charge of NASCAR for an hour, this is what next season’s Cup schedule would look like. What do you think?

Feb. 18 – Daytona
Feb. 25 – Atlanta
Mar. 4 – Las Vegas
Mar. 11 – Phoenix
Mar. 18 – Fontana
Mar. 25 – Martinsville
Apr. 8 – Texas
Apr. 15 – Bristol
Apr. 21 – Richmond
Apr. 29 – Talladega
May 6 – Watkins Glen (from Dover)
May 12 – Kansas
May 27 – Charlotte
June 3 – Pocono
June 10 – Bristol (from Michigan)
June 24 – Sonoma
July 1 – Chicago
July 7 – Daytona
July 14 – Kentucky
July 22 – New Hampshire
July 29 – Talladega (from Pocono)
Aug. 5 – Watkins Glen
Aug. 12 – Michigan
Aug. 18 – Bristol
Sep. 2 – Darlington
Sep. 9 – Indianapolis
Sep. 16 – Las Vegas
Sep. 22 – Daytona (from Richmond)
Sep. 30 – Charlotte (road course)
Oct. 7 – Dover
Oct. 14 – Talladega
Oct. 21 – Darlington (from Kansas)
Oct. 28 – Martinsville
Nov. 4 – Texas
Nov. 11 – Sonoma (from Phoenix)
Nov. 18 – Homestead-Miami

That’s 36 races featuring six on a superspeedway, retaining six on short tracks while expanding to five road courses. Minimal changes, maximum impact. How does it look to you?

1. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 4069 POINTS – 7 Wins
Not only does he have enough in the bank to have a bad race, but could even take a day off.

2. KYLE BUSCH – 4042 POINTS – 4 Wins
Winning would have been nice, but not being eliminated is even nicer.

3. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 4026 POINTS – 3 Wins
Junior wants teammates and young guns to advance…friends with the wrong team, not so much.

4. KEVIN HARVICK – 4017 POINTS – 1 Win
In 606 career starts, he has 303 top 10 finishes. You want to bet against good ole 50-50?

5. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 4017 POINTS – 3 Wins
The drive is alive for his date with eight.

6. DENNY HAMLIN – 4014 POINTS – 2 Wins
Virginia is for Lovers…and Virginians. That is the view of this native son of Chesterfield, Va.

7. RYAN BLANEY – 4009 POINTS – 1 Win
In 68 years, Wood Brothers have not a single driver’s championship. Maybe this is the year.

8. CHASE ELLIOTT – 4006 POINTS
Might want to think about getting that first win sooner than later.

9. KYLE LARSON – 2236 POINTS – 4 Wins
Damn engines.

10. MATT KENSETH – 2184 POINTS
Damn guys who cannot count.

11. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 2138 POINTS
It was doubtful he was going to win, but after he got all torn up last week all doubt was removed.

12. KASEY KAHNE – 2126 POINTS – 1 Win
Leaving Hendrick pens and stationary behind him, but will be taking Travis Mack.

13. KURT BUSCH – 2124 POINTS – 1 Win
After flogging Monster Energy for years, I wonder if he is feeling a bit like Tammy Wynette.

14. AUSTIN DILLON – 2122 POINTS – 1 Win
His N.C. team lost 4-2 to the eventual 2002 Little League World Series champions of Louisville.

15. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 2119 POINTS – 2 Wins
Things got so bad he went from 12th and in the final playoff spot one week, to 15th the next.

16. RYAN NEWMAN – 2107 POINTS – 1 Win
His second-place finish at Talladega is sandwiched between two results outside the top 30.

17. JOEY LOGANO – 810 POINTS – 1 Win
A win a win, but is it really if it is an encumbered one that fails to give you a pass to the Chase?

18. CLINT BOWYER – 793 POINTS
His last win came on October 13, 2012, in Charlotte. Even an encumbered one might be nice.

19. ERIK JONES – 757 POINTS
One moment his car was facing this a’way, the next it was facing that a’way.

20. DANIEL SUAREZ – 709 POINTS
String of six straight among the top 15 came to a crashing conclusion last week.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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