The demands after another spectacular race at Eldora Raceway in July are for more dirt tracks on the NASCAR schedule. This is a common theme from the fans, to beat writers, to the drivers, even to track owners. The six races at Eldora Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series have been must-see television every year. All have been successful and the thirst for more always comes back to the forefront. However, there are questions that need to be looked at before considering the future. However, one solution is prevalent with the merge with the ARCA Racing Series.
The questions that need to be asked are realistic ones. Does NASCAR really need more dirt races? Dave Moody of SiriusXM Radio and the Motor Racing Network does not think so. He thinks having more races than just Eldora would ruin the uniqueness of the Eldora Truck race. That is a fair argument. NASCAR has a sellout unique race that will continue to pay for each year. Tony Stewart does a wonderful job. Diluting the trend would definitely buck the trend a bit.
What about the 5-year sanctioning agreement? Yes, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Cup Series are all in the five-year sanctioning agreement that keeps their presence on the schedule locked in. However, this does not apply to the lower touring series. The NASCAR K&N East and West Series, along with the Whelen Modified Tour would benefit from the addition of a few dirt track races. This will help get them practice for the Eldora Dirt Derby/Mudsummer Classic.
The K&N East and West Series are pretty devoid of tracks in general. Both series have only 14 races on their schedule, which is mediocre. The 2018 K&N East Series has only one race in September. September is the perfect month for some dirt tracks in the lower series. In fact, after a race at Gateway for August 24, there is nothing until a trip to Loudon on September 22. That needs to change. The easy answer is an Eldora race on the schedule, but that may not be the expected solution to the problem.
On April 27, 2018, NASCAR and ARCA announced that they would merge in the 2020 season after the 2018 and 2019 seasons under the ARCA banner. The ARCA schedule contains two dirt tracks, both in the state of Illinois. The first is the Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack in Springfield, Illinois. Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack is one of the oldest racing tracks in the nation. Built around 1853, it has hosted auto racing since 1910. The track is a 1-mile clay dirt oval. The major headache is that Springfield, Illinois is not a major drawing impression. This writer has been to Springfield many times. It is tough to get a crowd out that far.
The other track on the ARCA Racing Series schedule that is made of dirt is the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Racetrack. DuQuoin is also a 1-mile clay dirt oval. ARCA and USAC both use the track. DuQuoin is not closer to Chicago than Springfield, but is definitely closer to the suburbs of St. Louis. (DuQuoin is 90 miles northeast of STL.) DuQuoin also benefits from having a popular college (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale) nearby, along with Amtrak services to DuQuoin. (Springfield also has Amtrak.)
There are a lot of unknowns with the upcoming ARCA merge in 2020. However, we do know that there are opportunities to add to the dirt track registry in NASCAR. Hopefully, NASCAR looks at one of the two for advancement.