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Drivers Offer To Help NASCAR With 2010 Scheduling

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 8 2009
Some drivers think that Pocono should dry up and blow away when it comes to scheduling for 2010.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Some drivers think that Pocono should dry up and blow away when it comes to scheduling for 2010. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Watkins Glen, N.Y. – Less than a week after enduring Monday’s four-hour marathon at Pocono Raceway, NASCAR veteran Ryan Newman was more than happy on Friday to chime in on how the 2010 Sprint Cup schedule should take shape.

It starts with reducing the length of races.

“Realistically from an excitement standpoint, all of the races could be shortened” said Newman, who finished 14th in the rain-delayed Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. “It’s more of a historical reference as far as why we’re racing as long as we are than it is a necessity.

“I think that the racing typically is drawn out in that middle 300 miles. The first 100 [miles], people are getting themselves in position for the next 300 and the last 100 typically in a 500 mile race. It’s what have you got and what can you prove.”

Next on Newman’s chopping block would be the Chase for the Sprint Cup date awarded to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The two-mile oval’s Labor Day weekend event was shifted to October on this year’s calendar. It would suit the 2008 Daytona 500 champion to see a road course race occupy California’s new autumn date on the schedule.

“I’ve never been a big fan of California,” Newman said. “With the racing and the quantity of fans that show up, I think it’s less than ideal for a Chase race and I would say to replace that, honestly, with a place like (Watkins Glen).

“I think there’s a ton of great fans here. Just throw a road course race in there and swap it out. Race in some snow, or whatever.”

Former Indy 500 champion and Formula One standout Juan Pablo Montoya was leaning toward seeing at least one of Pocono’s races being axed from the schedule.

But he backed away from those thoughts after posting a career-best second-place superspeedway finish at the 2.5-mile triangle on Monday.

“One of the races I would say I wouldn’t like to go to too much is Pocono,” Montoya said. “But this week we finished second. So I wouldn’t mind going back there now.

“I wouldn’t change a thing [about the overall schedule], to be honest. I’ve been here for three years and it’s great.”

Veteran Mark Martin said drivers should have little input to NASCAR when it comes to scheduling races.

“I really should keep my mouth shut about what my preferences are about races,” Martin said. “First of all, they’re skewed because of being a competitor. So I’ve got blinders on.

“What I might like to see might not be the best thing for the sport or for the fans. Certainly, there are race tracks that aren’t my favorite.

“I just pretty much leave it to NASCAR. They’re the ones that had the vision to bring us to bring us to where we are today. And if I were in charge, I would have messed it up for sure.”

But with many tracks left holding unsold tickets this season, perhaps NASCAR should at least consider Newman’s rationale.

“I’ve always said that it would be ideal to go to more race tracks in different areas only once [a year] instead of going to certain race tracks twice,” he said. “In respect to NASCAR racing and the fans in general, I think that’s a more ideal situation to touch fans in different areas that we haven’t touched.

“If that’s a market that starts out at 70,000 fans and can expand to 125,000 in two years, that’s something we need to look at.”

As for two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, he’s lobbying for one track in particular to be added to the Cup calendar.

“I’d like to see Eldora Speedway added to the schedule,” Stewart deadpanned about the half-mile clay oval he owns in Rossburg, Ohio. “Other than that, I’m pretty happy with it.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached a jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 8 2009


  • Chris says:

    NASCAR had it’s moment in the limelight. It peaked around 2005 and will never see the same sort of success again. Regardless of how NASCAR contributed to their reduction in popularity, all “Pro” sports are doomed and will continue to lose fans because the spectrum of entertainment is changing.

    Sports entertainment will change more in the next 10 years than it has anytime in the past. The changes will happen because the resources needed to put together a sporting event are becoming more accessible, thus creating more competitors for “Pro” sports.

  • Ken says:

    Newman’s right. The races are too long. When you have 500 mile races on the mile and a half, two mile and two and a half mile tracks then for the majority of each of those races you have everyone just cruising out there, not racing at 100% because they know how important it is to make it to the finish. If you shorten the races then you have fewer laps of guys just cruising and you get to the end faster which means that guys will race harder, sooner which will make the races far more appealing to the fans. The way it is right now, too many fans would rather take a nap than watch the majority of a NASCAR race. Shorten the races, cut out a lot of that dead time, so to speak, and I think more people will be interested in watching the whole thing.

    I would like to see one track experiment with a timed race and see how that works. Say a 3 hour race and see how that goes. That way the fans know exactly when to expect to see the checkered flag.

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  • holmes says:

    Is there a one mile dirt track that will accomodate 80,000 fans?

  • SB says:

    So what? Nascar should run 200 mile races like the Indy cars? And just how well are they doing on attendance and TV ratings? Will they reduce the price of tickets commensurate with the reduction in the number of laps being run? Isn’t one of the things that makes Nascar different from most other racing series the fact that they run so many longer races and have such a long season? It’s a marathon, not a ‘sprint’ (no pun on the sponsor of the day here.) I can agree with cutting down some of the tracks with 2 races per year, like California, MIS, Pocono. As long as they don’t remove any of the short tracks, where there is at least some hope of having something more than whoever gets in front off pit road stays there.