During a recent interview, NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell reportedly said NASCAR is looking to add “one big event” to the 2023 Cup schedule, which is expected to be released within the next two months.

That “one big event” is most likely a street race. I join Kevin Harvick and many others in being opposed to NASCAR going street racing. Street venues tend to produce events that either become follow the leader — with little chance of on-track passes — or crash fests. Sticking a stock car on a street course would likely result in a combination of both.

Chicago is the most likely location to host a 2023 street race, as that city has been rumored for the past year or two to be in line for a race through the streets. Though I question why NASCAR would go to the expense of putting on a street race in Chicago when there’s a perfectly good 1.5-mile oval there, which has been dormant since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Meadowlands in New Jersey and New Orleans have also been mentioned as possible locations NASCAR may be looking at to hold a street race.

If you read this column on June 3, you may remember me noting that New York City Mayor Eric Adams offered Randalls and Wards Island in the city as a location to stage a Formula 1 race. With three U.S. venues — including a new street race in Las Vegas — in line to host F1 races, the division politely declined the New York opportunity. I suggested that could be an ideal location for NASCAR to stage a street race.

“The Big Apple” is a market NASCAR officials have craved to race in for years. By racing on Randalls and Wards Island, I understand there would be minimal disruption to city traffic. That’s the tricky part about street races, metropolitan areas don’t want traffic slowed for an event featuring fast cars. There’s also frequent protests by neighbors who don’t want races in their backyards, along with numerous permitting hurdles to jump through.

Aside from IndyCar’s Long Beach Grand Prix, street races in the U.S. don’t have a great track record of lasting more than a few years. So NASCAR must think twice before taking it to the streets.

It’s been known for years that NASCAR officials will not add new races to an already packed schedule. Instead, for new race locations to be added, a track must lose one of its events. So that brings up the question of what track would lose a race to welcome a street circuit — or any other type of course — to the schedule.

A new race could come at the cost of one of the two weekends contested at tracks owned by NASCAR. The most likely venues to lose a race are the tracks in Darlington, Richmond and Kansas. However, it’s rumored the series will not return for a third year to race on the road course in Elk Hart Lake, Wisc.

In discussing the 2023 schedule, O’Donnell also expressed an interest in moving the All-Star Race around to a different track each year. With the exception of one early race being held in Atlanta, the All-Star Race was for years held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In 2020 — due to the pandemic — the race was held in Bristol. Each of the last two editions have been held at the Texas Motor Speedway. Although I believe the event belongs in Charlotte, I also think it’s a good idea to move the contest — which pays $1 million to win — to various venues.

Given that it’s always been held at a track owned by Speedway Motorsports, it’s likely to stay within that “family of tracks.” Atlanta and Las Vegas are the most likely locations to host the event next season.

Speedway Motorsports is in the midst of an ongoing effort to lease and rehabilitate the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway short track. Although that deal likely won’t be completed in time for the track to host a 2023 race, it’s widely believed that the company is eyeing the historic short track as a future venue to host the All-Star Race.

Nashville has recently become a hotbed of racing, with IndyCar staging a street race in “Music City” and Speedway Motorsports recently acquiring a concrete oval near the city to hold Cup series races.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the “Music City” continues to grow as a sought-after market to host major automobile races. Could the All-Star race land there in 2023? Not likely, but circle the short track there as a venue which could easily join the 2024 NASCAR schedule, in some capacity.

Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 ext. 117 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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