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Was practice on Daytona road course too much to ask?

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 15: Chase Briscoe, driver of the #98 Highpoint.com Ford, races Harrison Burton, driver of the #20 DEX Imaging Toyota, and Earl Bamber, driver of the #21 KCMG Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series UNOH 188 at Daytona International Speedway on August 15, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

All three of NASCAR’s national series are racing on the road course at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway this weekend, the first time any of the three series has contested a race on the track. Even so, they’re doing so without practice. I get the reasoning for no practice given the current climate, i.e. the coronavirus pandemic. And I get the idea of no practice on other race weekends, because on other race weekends, the three national series are contesting races at tracks they’ve been to several times over. But no practice on an unknown track? I feel uneasy about that, and yesterday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the course didn’t ease my mind about NASCAR’s decision to not practice at Daytona this weekend.

Saturday’s Xfinity Series race was pretty messy and not because it started on a damp track, either.

When it comes to Sunday afternoon’s Cup Series race, I’m not expecting a clean race, due to the lack of practice on an unknown track. Sure, at least some drivers had the opportunity to learn the course with a simulator. And, sure, simulators these days are pretty realistic. Still, they’re not the same as actual track time.

The two top drivers of 2020, so far, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, seem to have their doubts. And some of the comments made publicly about the unknown don’t make me feel any better.

“Me leading everyone into turn one at Daytona could be interesting, because I have no freaking clue where I’m going,” pole sitter Harvick said.

Hamlin will start alongside Harvick on the front row Sunday afternoon.

“For the 36 guys following me into turn one tomorrow, enter at your own risk,” a tweet from Hamlin during the Xfinity Series race read. “My braking points are not exact and you will likely miss the corner like the top-10 guys just did.”

We’re talking about two of the top drivers in the sport, THE top-two currently. Neither one of them sound very confident, now, do they? Neither am I.

I’m not suggesting NASCAR should have reverted back to a schedule of a couple of practice sessions of nearly an hour for each series. But would a single 30-minute practice session for each series been too much to ask? I’m sure something could’ve been arranged while remaining true to COVID-19 precautionary measures. After all, if they can race, why can’t they make laps for 15-30 minutes just to get acquainted with the track layout?

I’m just talking about a single, brief practice sessions for each series, here — fifteen minutes for each series, at least. I’m sure that wouldn’t have been too much to ask. After all, NASCAR originally planned on practice at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway before changing its mind late in the game.

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Posted by on August 16, 2020. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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