The 2019 season has a twist people are going to forget until the race weekend. During the weekend of the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Speedway Motorsports announced a change in 2019. Sears Point International Raceway/Sonoma Raceway will return to the carousel set up in 2019 for the fiftieth season of racing there. For those who do not know, the carousel is what the IndyCar drivers use in their season finale until next year. This is one of the best decisions they could make.
Here's the track's updated graphic on how the @RaceSonoma course layout will look for #NASCAR events in 2019. Track's release indicates a 12-turn, 2.52-mile configuration. pic.twitter.com/oIu6upCv05
— Zack Albert (@zack_albert) September 29, 2018
Sonoma Raceway has various different ways that they can change the track for different types of racing. The IndyCar series use turn 11A instead of NASCAR, who uses the famous turn 11. From 1998-2018 NASCAR used turn 4a and turn 7, this is called the short chute or the chute. NASCAR uses turn 9 while IndyCar uses 9A. This made the track 1.99 miles around the track with 110 laps to make up the 350 kilometer distance. The IndyCar alignment is 2.38 miles. With the changes to the carousel, the new alignment will be 12 turns and 2.52 miles.
With the short chute, drivers come out of 3 on the top of the track, then downhill past 4 into 4A. There, the drivers would make a hard right turn into a straightaway leading through 7 toward 7A. Without the short chute, the drivers would come down from 3 and into the carousel via a turn at 4, which will be barricaded to prevent runoff into 4A. Drivers now turn into 5 and 6 through the hills below the upper turns. After the gradual curve into turn 6, the next straightaway doubles along the drag strip. Now entering 7, the cars will make another hairpinesque curve. The rest is the same as before.
The problem this writer has with turns 4a into 7 (the short chute) is that it seemed less road coursey and more the idea of high speeds. There is less passing going on in this the 4A/7 stretch than the carousel, where 4, 5, and 6 are lower speeds. These lower speeds also reduce the severity of accidents. While not many cars went high speed into 4A straight forward into a tire barrier, it is still something that could occur. Now, with the curve into 4, 5 and 6, the speeds are drastically reduced. There is still the chance for high-speed crashing out of the drag stretch into 7, but that is much less than the current design.
The same concept applies to Watkins Glen International Raceway. Two years ago, this writer wrote a piece for the Armchair All-Americans about changes to Watkins Glen. While the serious accidents out of 5 at WGI going into 9 have gone down since I wrote that, it is still an argument that applies here. Turn 4A/7 and turns 5 and 9 are the same design at two different tracks. Higher-speed, less turning turns. This probably makes the drivers happier, but the racing is not as good. Some are able to use 5 at Watkins Glen for a pass or set up for one at 10. This should be another reason to go back to the boot at Watkins Glen.
Sonoma made a good change for the future. Let us continue that trend.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.