I hear the drivers and what they’re trying to say about experimenting with different packages for the races in NASCAR’s premiere series, but after how this weekend went at the Michigan International Speedway, it’s never been more clear – restrictor plates are the best package to use on the 2-mile track. I’m not saying use it everywhere or even use it at any other tracks other than Daytona and Talladega who already use the plates, but Michigan is best suited to join those two venues now too.
The XFINITY Series used this package last year at Indy and the last two weeks at Pocono and Michigan. The Indy race last July drew rave reviews. For some reason, it worked so much better there than last weekend in Pocono. But, when used again on Saturday in Michigan, it showed that their race was the best race of the weekend.
Saturday’s race saw 21 green flag lead changes. There were only 11 in 2017 in that exact same race. Plus, this year’s race was 30 laps shorter than last year’s. The cars raced in a pack all day and put on a thrilling show.
Compare that to Sunday’s rain shortened Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race that saw just nine lead changes in 133 laps and well, you get the picture. Just look at how this race shaped up. After the first stage ended, Kasey Kahne stayed on track and didn’t pit. He restarted the second stage with the lead. He led 11 laps, ELEVEN LAPS before giving up the lead. How can a car, and nothing against Kahne, but how can a car that is far behind the front runners in the speed department lead for 11 laps before getting passed?
Clint Bowyer restarted the final stage with two fresh tires. Everyone else behind had four. He should have been sitting duck. Instead, he held off the challengers and won a rain shortened race.
If this was with the restrictor plate package, those cars wouldn’t have been able to do that. This package, well track position shouldn’t be so crucial that it doesn’t matter if you have a 23rd place car, that’s where Kahne finished by the way, or the best car, you should be rewarded for having speed and not be rewarded by track position.
Look at last week as a prime example. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick had the fastest cars in Pocono but they lost the race to Martin Truex Jr. because of track position and restart lanes. Think about that. Races are now being decided on restart lanes and track position. Faster cars can’t get to the front because they get so bad in dirty air.
That’s the glaring problem with this current package. You should be able to run side-by-side and not spin. These cars are becoming designed to run single file. That’s not racing. Restrictor plates allow for cars to be able to run side-by-side and pass.
Most want to see what we saw Saturday and not what we saw Sunday. For a series that is seeing their fan base getting smaller and smaller, it’s time to give the fans what they want and that’s what they saw on Saturday.