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NASCAR Cup Series Evolution: Road Course Ascendance and Power Debates

NASCAR Cup Series Evolution: NASCAR has long been synonymous with oval tracks, but the appetite for road course racing is undeniably growing. The 2023 Cup Series season witnessed seven races where cars turned both left and right, including the exhibition-style Bluegreen Vacations Duels.

However, this recent shift isn’t NASCAR’s first exploration into road racing. Back in the 1980s, stock car racing flirted with the idea of a road-course exclusive series, mirroring motorsports’ trend toward road and street tracks seen in premier series like NTT IndyCar (known then as Champ Car) and the IMSA SportsCar Championship.

NASCAR aimed for a similar endeavor with a specific car – the Left-Right car or L-R car. It was designed to have shorter wheelbases and significantly reduced weight compared to the Cup Series cars of that era.

However, the L-R Series hit roadblocks and was eventually scrapped. Dale Earnhardt criticized the new car for its imbalance. NASCAR, looking to expand beyond its southern roots, pivoted away from the L-R Series, favoring what’s considered the golden era of stock car racing.

NASCAR Cup Series Evolution (1)

Recently, NASCAR’s CEO Steve O’Donnell addressed the ongoing debate about increasing power in the Cup Series cars. With the introduction of the seventh generation of Cup cars, concerns about aerodynamics affecting overtaking, especially on short tracks, have surfaced.

O’Donnell mentioned to, “I think everything is up for consideration. We’ve proven that. You have to factor in what are the costs involved as well, right? It’s not as simple as just upping the horsepower.”

The dialogue between the governing body, engine builders, and drivers advocating for more power continues, leaving the future adjustments hanging in the balance.

ALSO READ: Kaden Honeycutt and the Evolution of CARS Tour: 2023 Recap and 2024 Aspirations

Our Reader’s Queries

When did NASCAR stop using real stock cars?

NASCAR made a major change to the Grand National Division in 1966, which marked the end of the use of Strictly Stock cars.

Why is Dodge not in NASCAR?

Following their championship win with Penske Racing and driver Brad Keselowski in 2012, the automaker withdrew from the sport. This decision was prompted by their refusal to offer Penske Racing a multi-year deal, leading the team to switch to Ford. Despite their departure, Keselowski continued to celebrate victories in the No. car.

What were the old names of the NASCAR Cup Series?

The NASCAR Cup Series has undergone several name changes over the years. It was originally called Strictly Stock in 1949, then Grand National from 1950 to 1970. From 1971 to 1985, it was known as the Winston Cup Grand National, followed by Winston Cup from 1986 to 2003. The name changed again to Nextel Cup from 2004 to 2007, then Sprint Cup from 2008 to 2016. Finally, it became the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 2017 to 2019.

What did the NASCAR Cup Series used to be called?

The NASCAR Cup Series is the premier racing series of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). Originally called the ‘Strictly Stock Division’ when it began in 1949, the series was later known as the ‘Grand National Division’ from 1950 to 1970. In 1971, the series began leasing its naming rights to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and has since been known as the NASCAR Cup Series.

Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatia, a distinguished BA (Hons) English graduate from St. Stephen College (University of Delhi) and a holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (English) from IIMC Delhi, is an accomplished journalist. Currently affiliated with, Khushal is an expert in covering a range of sports topics with a specialization in motorsports, particularly NASCAR. His insightful articles explore the nuances of the sporting world, providing readers with comprehensive analysis and the latest updates. With a commitment to unbiased reporting, Khushal's expertise and authoritative voice make him a reliable source for sports enthusiasts.


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