Stage racing adds a lot of excitement through a race if you’re someone who thinks long-game with your driver. Getting the little victories through a race helps keep spirits alive even if your driver doesn’t win. It’s easy to see what NASCAR was going for, especially with the guaranteed two restarts in a race.
That being said, there is a large hole in the entertainment side of NASCAR that I think we forgot we were missing until yesterday. The thrill of a fuel mileage race is as entertaining as a multi-lap side-by-side battle, it’s just a different kind of adrenaline. When a race is coming down to the end like yesterday where there are possibly up to six different outcomes, it makes for a suspenseful ten laps.
Another aspect is who wins these races; we saw Bubba Wallace get his first top-five of the year. Fuel mileage races can bring a lot of mid-pack even back of the pack cars into the top ten and in some rare cases win.
Fuel mileage wins have always been considered second-class wins. Winning a race on fuel mileage is always taken with a grain of salt, especially if it’s your only win. I think a lot of fans have looked at the fewer underdog wins thanks to stage racing and shrugged at it, but I always loved watching an entire team’s strategy play out. Seeing someone new in victory lane that you’re not used to seeing should never be looked at negatively.
Stage racing all but took these thrills aways from us. Without long-runs and green flag pit stops, there is no ability to play strategies. Before yesterday, I thought that maybe this was over. Not even the most famous fuel mileage race, the Coca-Cola 600 has been won on fuel mileage since 2017 when Austin Dillon pulled it off.
I hope that the uproaring positive response from this race motivates NASCAR to attempt to make minor tweaks to certain races like the Coca-Cola 600 and Pocono. However they have to do it, just make it so the final stage has a better chance of revolving around fuel strategy.
At the very least, keep this Pocono format and double header in the schedule for a few more years.