Just this past week, NASCAR released the schedules for the Xfinity, Cup, and Truck series. For the Cup Series, 17 of the 36 events have a later start time, such as the Fall Kansas race, Chicagoland, Michigan, Pocono, and the Daytona 500, to name a few. Also, the Southern 500 and the Night Race at Bristol have switched networks.
To be fair, I don’t understand the logic behind this decision. I understand that NASCAR wants to bring some more fans into the sport, which is commendable, but this has backfired in the past. Here are a few examples.
A decade ago, the 2006 Daytona 500 started at 2:45pm as an intended lead-in to the Winter Olympic Games, instead of a traditional start time of 1pm. If I recall correctly, the weather at that race was downright TERRIBLE, with gray, dreary skies all race long. But let’s say the race ends up delayed due to fog or rain and the telecast runs past 7:00. What would NBC do? Would they have moved the finish to CNBC, or would they have finished on the same network?
In my mind, the 2007 and 2008 editions of the race did not need to start at 3:30pm. I understand that NASCAR wanted to bring in the fans from the West Coast, but there was nothing wrong with the traditional 1pm timeslot. This came back to bite them in 2009, when the Daytona 500 ended up rain-shortened instead of running to its completion, which is what a 1pm timeslot would have done.
A third example is last year’s 2015 Ford EcoBoost 400, the season finale for the Chase for The Sprint Cup. There was rain that day, which moved the start of the race back to 4:50pm. The race likely would have moved to NBCSN had it not ended by 8pm. If the race starts earlier, especially on network TV, then, even with the rain delay, it would finish by 5:30 or 6, which would avoid such a situation like we nearly faced the year before.
In my view, here’s how the start times should go.
Every West Coast race should have a prerace start time of 2:30 and a green flag at 3:10
The Southern 500 and the Coca Cola 600 are the two exceptions to this rule. Their start times should be left alone.
All the night races should have a pre-Race start time at 7 and a green flag at 7:40.
Every race in the East or Central time zone, and every Chase race with the exception of Phoenix should have a green flag at 1:10.
As far as TV coverage, 12 of the first 16 races should be on FOX with the rest on FS1.
6 of the first 10 races before the Chase should be on NBC and the rest on NBCSN.
8 of the 10 Chase races should be on NBC, and the first two on NBCSN. I have the Charlotte race moving to Sunday, so as not to interfere with a Notre Dame game, should it be moved to primetime.
This makes a grand total of 26 of the 36 races on regular television, like they did in the first two/three years of the NBC/TNT/FOX/FX deal.
What do you think? As a NASCAR fan, do you like the races being scheduled for later? Do you think they should be scheduled earlier? And do you think 36 races is too much, too few, or just right?
Make sure you leave a comment below and tell me what you think.
You can find me on Twitter at @TBoges2010.