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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 25: Favorite NASCAR Road Racing Memory?

Today’s question: With the NASCAR Cup Series moving to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 15, what is your favorite NASCAR road racing memory, whether it’s a moment, race or driver?

Curt Cavin: Rather than focusing on a single race, let me highlight a series of them. As most of our readers know, NASCAR went through a period of staging two Cup Series road races a year, at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. As I spent the early part of my journalism career covering Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and other USAC stars at short tracks across the Midwest, I believed their talent was superior to the Southern-based stock car drivers of the 1980s and 1990s. That was proven true in Cup road races from 1997 through 2009. In that stretch, Gordon and Stewart won 16 of the 25 races, with Kasey Kahne winning one. Gordon won six road races in succession – three from the pole – and combined with Stewart to have a streak of five straight. At Sonoma, the duo won four in a row and seven in nine years, and at Watkins Glen they won five in eight years. It was quite the run for some of USAC’s finest.

Zach Horrall: Road course ringers. NASCAR road course racing has changed over the years, but not in a bad way. These days, it’s an ultra-competitive field with drivers now realizing they need to be able to compete at, and win, road course races. Case in point: Kyle Larson won last month’s race at Sonoma Raceway. But back in the 2000s, NASCAR was dominated by Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, like Curt said. As a Jeff Gordon superfan, that was fun to watch. But I also loved seeing drivers from other disciplines show up to Sonoma and Watkins Glen and give it all they had. Drivers like Ron Fellows, Boris Said, PJ Jones, Scott Pruett and so many more. These drivers gave it all they had, and they were always great storylines to follow. They were often competitive, finishing in the top five and top 10.

Paul Kelly: OK, this question caters to my love of the obscure, so bear with me. One of my favorite road courses in North America is Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, better known as Mosport, which is about 40 miles east of Toronto. It has hosted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since 2013, with a hiatus this year and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The circuit, which hosted Formula One and the INDYCAR SERIES in the 1960s and 1970s, is fast and flowing with minimal runoff area. It’s not for the faint of heart. The final corner, a hard right-hander leading to the main straightaway, is almost guaranteed to create action, and it always does with the NASCAR trucks. Just watch this video to see some of the insane, full-contact finishes over the past few years including drivers such as Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric and Ty Dillon. My favorite came in 2016, when Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek produced a final dash to the checkered that was straight out of “Days of Thunder.” I was working an IMSA support race that weekend and saw the mayhem unfold right in front of my eyes through the windows of the media center. I’ll always remember that finish.

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