The Camping World Truck Series is headed to the Rock on Sunday. This weekend is the first time that one of NASCAR’s top three series races at Rockingham Speedway since the track’s final Cup race in 2004. The track also had the chance to host a Nationwide Series event, but track owner Andy Hillenburg passed on the opportunity.
Many hope that a successful weekend for the Trucks series and eventually for NNS could bring about a return of Sprint Cup Series racing, which was a fixture at the Rock for 38 years.
Personally, I don’t see the Cup series ever returning to the Rock.
NASCAR left Rockingham for a multitude of reasons. They wanted to try to expand the sport into untapped markets, like Seattle and the New York Metro area. They felt that four races in the state of North Carolina were oversaturating that area. Poor attendance at Rockingham was also a reason. The track has only about 60,000 seats, but couldn’t sell out for the last few races run there.
While NASCAR has yet to break into the Seattle and NYC markets as of now, you have to think they have not given up on the idea. NASCAR would much rather have a race run with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop compared to the trees and cemetery that sit next to Rockingham Speedway.
There is another issue keeping the Rock from getting back on the Sprint Cup schedule. What track gives up a date for Rockingham to get one back? NASCAR won’t expand the schedule. As it is, many feel that 38 weeks is too long. Many want Pocono to lose a race, but as long as Pocono is privately owned you can rule out that possibility. Same with Dover.
Rockingham being privately owned doesn’t help either. ISC isn’t going to take a date away from one of their tracks to help Rockingham, and neither is SMI.
While chances for a Cup race returning to the Rock are extremely low, let’s enjoy this Sunday’s race anyway. NASCAR is back at the Rock and it should be fun.