Drivers Offer To Help NASCAR With 2010 Scheduling
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 “It’s more of a historical reference as far as why we’re racing as long as we are than it is a necessity.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 firstname.lastname@example.org Comments