DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – It’s NASCAR Media Day at the Daytona International Speedway. While there’s not a lot of stories that realistically come out of this day, some things that are being said do move the needed.
One topic of conversation was regarding the future Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. It’s no secret, things need changed.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, 36 races spread out between nine months is far too long. There are jokes that a full term pregnancy is shorter than a NASCAR season. I mean think about this, the Super Bowl in the NFL was played two weeks ago, imagine if the next NFL season started in early May.
That’s how short a NASCAR offseason is.
One driver made some very valid points on Wednesday from the Daytona International Speedway.
“I don’t know really the analytics of what fans want to see, but I know that when you tune into the Olympics, the most popular event is the 100-meter dash,” said Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin. “It’s not the 25-mile marathon. Maybe there’s something to be said about that.”
Hamlin, has been very outspoken in the past, says that he’s all but certain we will see the future schedule end much sooner than it does currently.
“I think that certainly it could be shorter,” Hamlin continued. “I don’t know that it’s shorter as in races, but the length in time in the calendar year, it could be shortened up for sure. It’s not as easy making those changes as what we would all like for it to be because of all the stakeholders and what not. I think in the next few years, you’ll probably see some of that.
“You always feel it about September or October that this is a very long season.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. agrees saying that at least in sprint cars in a span of 36 weeks you race 90 times.
The reason this is coming up again is because the schedule can make some changes following the 2020 season. See, that’s when the deals with the race tracks end. In turn, the Drivers Council, who is now in Year No. 5, will have a big input on this.
But, how much longer will the council stay? Hamlin, says it serves a purpose and has an impact but isn’t sure how much longer it will remain in place.
“I do think with the changing of the guard as far as management with Jim France, you’re likely to see him listen to the drivers more so then what’s been in the past even though you had the meetings and had the agenda. Sometimes it just kinds of fall on deaf ears.
“Are they really going to make that change or is their mind already made up on it? The owners have seen that changes are coming, and changes have been made in the last year or so quicker than what has in the past. Certainly, if there is any time for the Drivers Council, this is will be the right time because you have the right people to listen.”
Hamlin, cites that he was fined $25k in 2013 for comments about the Gen 6 car and now that all the criticism is surrounding it, he thinks he should be reimbursed.
“I should get my money back,” Hamlin joked. “That’s BS. I didn’t hardly say anything other than, ‘This car doesn’t drive like the other car.’ Anyway, as I digress, they owe me a beer or two.
“I would say it is tough. I think NASCAR appreciates the one-on-one conversations if you do have something negative to say. They do not like it in the media because they think that ultimately anything we say the bulk of fans will agree with regardless of it has any basis or not. They feel like it puts a little bit behind any time you’re out there, and you’re being openly negative about it. Instead, let it shake out on the race track and let the fans decide for themselves.”