If you’ve watched any American stock-car racing lately, you might have noticed a few changes in NASCAR for the 2017 race season. But Circuit of The Americas chairman Bobby Epstein wants things to get even weirder in the future, because it sounds like he really, really wants NASCAR to come to Austin.
In a story from the Austin American-Statesman on Friday, Epstein said he’s been in contact with NASCAR officials about coming to COTA. He also said he’s heard from drivers and fans, and that “everyone seems to want to be [at COTA].”
The Statesman reported that Epstein’s primarily chasing a race date for the top-tier Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and COTA being a road course does line up with the mysterious test sessions NASCAR recently held at oval tracks—the sanctioning body tested the interior road courses at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the start of the year, an 1.5-mile “cookie cutter” oval track that has multiple race dates per year in the Cup Series. Around the time of the test, Motorsport cited unnamed sources in reporting that NASCAR could begin using the interior in Charlotte road course as soon as the All-Star Race in May.
But that’s just the thing. NASCAR tested the road course at an oval track that’s already on the 36-race Cup Series schedule likely because of how hard it is to change that schedule. Speedway Motorsports and the International Speedway Corporation own most of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit, several of which have multiple race dates per year, and they’re likely not going to give them up.
That doesn’t seem to bother Epstein, though. From the Statesman:
The mere thought of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick negotiating the twists, turns, esses and elevation changes along the 3.4-mile circuit stirs the imagination.
“It’s something fans are asking for in droves,” Epstein said. “We hear it, and I’m assuming (NASCAR) hears it, too. They are continuing to tweak their product, looking for new ideas. This would be something different, a change of pace.
“I’d be pretty optimistic it could happen because NASCAR said they want more road courses, more non-ovals. Now that they’ve said that, this is the best one in the country. So if enough fans want them here, I think they’ll be here one day.”
Epstein isn’t the only one who thinks that COTA is a good place for NASCAR, either. Also from the Statesman:
Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup champion who will start eighth in the Daytona 500, told the American-Statesman a few years back while testing at COTA: “This could work. With the tight corners, you could just dive-bomb people. It’d be fun and frustrating all at once. It’s an amazing track that brings a lot of worlds to one place.”
If anything, COTA has a much better chance to land on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or Xfinity Series schedules. There’s a bit more track mixup there from year to year, especially with road courses, but the respective crowds are also smaller.
The Statesman didn’t hear back from NASCAR on the topic, but Jalopnik has reached out and will update when we hear back. But don’t expect NASCAR to jump on the chance to comment immediately, because those folks have enough headaches to deal with this weekend thanks to all of the new rule changes.
Hat tip to Autoweek!