Time For NASCAR to Shorten the Race Season‏

NASCAR has seen a precipitous decline in both race attendance and television viewers over the past five years.  The economy is to blame, mostly, but as a solution NASCAR officials have shifted everything from where they race to when they race to how points are allocated post-race (they are still way off on the latter).  They have tried everything and yet there has been no rebound on either the at-track or in-front-of-set numbers.  Meanwhile NFL preseason games are blowing up monitors at the Nielsen home office and proving this nation, undivided, is a football country.

There is a solution for NASCAR, though hard to swallow I’m sure.  Shorten the season.  Dramatically.  Do we really need thirty-six races to name a champion? Twenty-six to name the playoff drivers?  Does anybody else in the sports world find it odd that the NSCS currently runs a ten-month calendar – longer than any other sport in this country by a fairly wide margin?  NASCAR owns Sundays (for the most part) from the Daytona 500 until Labor Day, battling only the four major golf Sundays and some day baseball.  After Labor Day, it goes toe-to-toe with the most popular sports league in the history of the world: the NFL.  You want to trace your numbers plummet?  Start there.
Why not finish on Labor Day Weekend and become a new American tradition?  This would enable NASCAR an untainted completion to their season and also enable them to finish on a track that’s not Homestead.  I explain NASCAR finishing at Homestead every year like this.  Imagine, every year, the World Series was played at a neutral location and that neutral location was Riverfront Stadium in Newark, home to the Newark Bears.  That’s Homestead.
NASCAR would have to cut ten races.  Pocono, Kansas, Richmond, Loudon, Michigan, Phoenix, Texas.  All of them lose their second race.  I also think it dilutes the thrill of the Daytona 500 and Talladega by returning to these famed tracks for second visits.  (I believe Talladega should be the final race of the season – bookending the season perfectly.)  Not only would this shorten the season but it would create more interest around these tracks on race day if the race fans knew the sport was not going to return to the area for another year.  Would it help the TV ratings?  I think so.
I love NASCAR.  And it pains me as a NASCAR fan to know I and many people like me are unable to truly enjoy the Chase – supposedly the most exciting stretch of the season – because the races have been relegated to second-rate behind the NFL in our minds.  I think the rest of country would applaud the move by showing up on race day and turning their TVs on.
  • Anonymous

    I agree with everything you said except ending the season at Talladega. Worst thing you can do is have a crap shoot determine the champion. There are already enough gimmicks and entertainment value enhancers in Nascar these days. We don’t need to determine a champion by a crap shoot on the last week of the season. End the season at Bristol or Richmond as these tracks but the control in the drivers hands.

    I do agree that the season needs to be shortened and only one race per track. This would also lend itself to new tracks entering the series like Iowa. Remove the 2nd races for Atlanta, Charlotte, Talladega and Daytona and you have room for Iowa.

    It will never happen though. Nascar would lose money if they shortened the season and we all know they can’t have that.

  • SeanSawyer

    I think a better solution for all involved would be to follow the NFL and have two conferences. For example we have double header weekends like the NFL. We keep all the races. The races might need to be a bit shorter but the money would still be there. If desired, they can even add more races. In the chase they take the best 43 cars and the rest go home. Maybe we still get the top 12 eligible for the chase.

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