DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Denny Hamlin made a strong point during Wednesday’s Media Day at the Daytona International Speedway about the need to shorten the season. See, the topic was brought up because there’s been rumors of a scheduling overhaul coming.
With the contracts that are in place though, nothing can happen until 2021 at the earliest. But, with the direction that not only NASCAR is going, but the sport and society in general, big changes are likely needed.
The biggest change though isn’t the need to move dates around or even add or subtract tracks, it’s time to shorten the schedule. After the owners met with the media on Friday morning, it seems to be unanimous – this is happening.
It doesn’t matter whom you talk to, everyone agrees that starting a season in mid February and ending it a week before Thanksgiving is absurd. It’s far too long. Having 36 points paying races (all on weekends) isn’t working.
Fans grow disinterested. In a sport that’s trying to gain new fans, how can you grow with your season lasts the length of a pregnancy?
Keep this in mind, the Super Bowl just ended a few weeks ago, imagine if the next NFL season started in early May. That’s how NASCAR is operating.
As Hamlin said, the most popular track and field event in the Olympics is the 100 meter dash.
Another theory was thrown out there on Friday too. Jack Roush, team owner of Roush Fenway Racing said on Friday that it may be time to shorten the races too.
“The races may need to get shorter,” said Roush. “That could be cost savings all the way around. Probably need to get shorter. People say we need to race fewer times. I’m not sure that’s true. I used to tell Mike Helton, if he had three or four races a week, I’d be there for him. I don’t know if I’d say that today.”
He’s right too. I know this may not be too popular but I agree with him that most races need shortened. We’re in a day and age where attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. People don’t have 3+ hours to sit in front of a TV on a Sunday afternoon anymore. Plus, if you want to fix the racing, then it’s time to shorten races too.
Just look at the best races run. It seems to be the races where rain is coming. Drivers turn up the intensity a bit more. Even the Truck Series and XFINITY Series races are more intense and that’s because of they’re shorter in distance.
I mean stage breaks were adopted to chop the races up a bit. It’s no secret, NASCAR wanted to make drivers not ride around so much during the longer races, so why not add points as an incentive.
So, why not just shorten them to begin with?
The longer races when original scheduled were a test of man vs. machine vs. track. Now a days, these cars can race over 1,000 miles rather easily. The drivers are in such good shape too that I’ve seen them get out of their cars not even breaking a sweat. I mean at Indy last September for an example, the XFINITY Series and Cup Series ran on the same track on the day. That’s 650 miles of racing. The drivers that did it that day told me that they could do it again if needed.
So what are we doing still racing this long? I get the fans want their value but wouldn’t your value be just as served with intense racing all the way through than single file parades?
We’ve all seen races that just get so drawn out. Other than leaving the Daytona 500 the Daytona 500, why not shorten everything else up? You can still use “400” or “500” in the names but make them kilometers not miles.
It’s a big statement when all the drivers and owners are lining up saying the exact same thing.