Dale Earnhardt Jr tests Mazda MX-5 at Martinsville (Video)

NASCAR is exploring a new ladder system; MX-5 Cup car touch an oval for the first time

Zoom, zoom. Could IMSA’s Mazda MX-5 Series be heading to short track ovals?

That’s the idea. The affordable series is typically used for road course racing. However, groups on iRacing have discovered these cars race week on short tracks as well.

And this week, NASCAR hosted a test at Martinsville Speedway to test that in the real world. NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt Jr took part in the test.

8 drivers took part in the test. Bobby Labonte took also took part along with track president Clay Campbell.

This marked the first time in the history of the MX-5 Series that the machines have been run on an oval. The test took place on Monday and Tuesday.

NASCAR is exploring options for a ladder system. A new support series that can give driver more opportunities in stock car racing.

Dale Earnhardt Jr comments after testing the Mazda MX-5 at Martinsville Speedway

“My first impressions were, the car is a blast. A lot of fun,” Dale Earnhardt Jr told NASCAR.com.

“The braking is really different. It’s almost like push-button braking. You press the pedal, it starts to clamp and slow the car down.”

“If they had a race here, it would be fantastic. The show would be fantastic.”

“It’s already got this cult following in sim racing. Want to know what it looks like on a short track like Martinsville? The sim world has already checked that box.”

“It would be tempting to come race, if they had a race here.”

NASCAR ladder system

“The powers behind IMSA, NASCAR, all the people that are curious about this are moving in a good direction,” Dale Jr added.

“This is something to explore. I think it would be a nice compliment to series, to come here to Martinsville.”

“The NASCAR fans would absolutely embrace it. You got two different worlds coming together. All the IMSa fans and the NASCAR fans coming together to watch this, that’s what would happen.”

“NASCAR wants a ladder series. That really creates many opportunities.”

“20 years ago, to get to NASCAR, you came from late models and modifieds. Some people came from the dirt world, but it was rare.”

“When Dave Blaney came into the Cup Series, a lot of guys didn’t really believe that a dirt sprint car driver could come in and adapt. That’s no longer the case. Especially with Next Gen, you can come from any part of the world.”

“What I think NASCAR would love to do… The Mazda MX-5 Series to be another compliment to its brand and provide more opportunities for drivers through a ladder system.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr
Mazda MX-5 Test
Dale Earnhardt Jr talks the Mazda MX-5 car

Mazda MX-5 Cup | IMSA | NASCAR | Martinsville Speedway