By admin | April 11, 2010
By Richard Allen
A while back I wrote a piece in which I stated my belief that most NASCAR Sprint Cup races are too long. Three or four 500-600 mile races are enough. Daytona, Darlington and Charlotte are really the only tracks that should race to that kind of distance.
It is my firm belief that shorter races would promote better racing throughout the entire event. As it is now with so many long races, there is invariably a long middle stretch of 150-200 miles in which drivers are simply riding and waiting for that inevitable late race caution and short dash to the finish.
In these difficult economic times, shorter race distances would help teams by reducing tire expenses and the cost of worn equipment.
The Subway Fresh Fit 600 on Saturday night at the Phoenix International Raceway did much to make my case for cutting the length of races. Because of the new start times instituted by NASCAR during this past off season, this race had an extra 63 laps added to it so as to assure a night time ending. It was called a ‘600’ because the distance translated to that number of kilometers. Actually, the race was meant to run to a distance of 375 laps on the one mile track.
It was pretty apparent that the addition contributed nothing other than a longer segment in which drivers held station and waited for that typical ending. Right on cue, a late race caution came out when Scott Riggs smacked the wall with only a few laps remaining. Varying pit strategies ultimately led to a pretty exciting finish with Ryan Newman taking the win over Jeff Gordon.
That finish could have been achieved at a shorter distance, as can the finishes of most races.
Some may have enjoyed the extra distance in the Subway Fresh Fit 600. The concessionaires who sold more items, the television and radio networks who sold more commercial time, and those who enjoy monotony may have taken joy from the added 63 laps. Other than that, I can’t see how adding distance to any race is helpful. For that matter most are too long.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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