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Most Sprint Cup races should be shortened

By admin | June 9, 2011

By Richard Allen


I hate walking simply for the sake of walking but I need to do something to get myself moving. To that end I have devised an activity that keeps my interest up as I make my nightly jaunt around my neighborhood. Each night as I start out I devise a racing related topic or two and try to get a discussion going on Twitter. It has worked so well this past week that I have not missed a night of walking and often forget how many laps around the subdivision I have traveled.

Whenever the Sprint Cup Series visit’s the Pocono Raceway, the topic of race length invariably comes up. So I decided to have Thursday night’s topic revolve around the length of races.

I used to be of the opinion that the longer the race the better. However, over the past few years of attending more dirt track events and years of sitting through NASCAR television coverage I have come to think many races on the schedule need to be shortened.

As a matter of fact, I would suggest that only three races -the Daytona 500, the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600- need to remain at a length of 500+ miles. No other race should be longer than 400 miles or laps, depending on track length.

There are several reasons why I have come to this conclusion. First, we live in an age in which attention spans have grown shorter. Now, I am very rarely one who advocates a break from tradition just because it is the trendy thing to do. However, in this case it may be more than trendy, it may be necessary for the survival of the sport.

I am a high school teacher by trade and I can tell you that fewer and fewer kids of today will grow into adults of tomorrow who will be willing to invest 4 hours into a NASCAR race on a Sunday afternoon. That said, traditions will have to be thrown aside, or at least adjusted, to accommodate the next generation or the sport will die altogether.

Secondly, the need for the 500 mile race has passed. Many years ago, 500 mile races separated good equipment from bad and the well prepared from the not so well prepared. Nowadays, cars rarely drop out of races due to mechanical failure. And more, with better conditioning and technology, drivers rarely need relief so the 500 mile races are not necessarily serving as a test of man or machine anymore.

And lastly, I believe shorter races would encourage harder racing. With less time to get the objective accomplished, drivers would be forced to get to the front of the pack as quickly as possible rather than bide their time and wait for an opportunity to make a move.

Tracks and television networks would likely balk at such a suggestion. And some fans might feel as though they were not getting enough bang for the buck.

To counter this I would suggest a system much like that used in dirt racing. After qualifying on Saturday, the field could be broken into four groups. Those four groups would compete in 25 mile or lap qualifying races on Sunday. Those races would determine starting positions for the main event and would also determine pit stall selection, which would cause drivers to race hard in the qualifiers.

Television could sign on the air and go immediately to the heat races. After these races ended, the network could do its pre-race interview and feature segments while crews prepared for the feature race.

Tracks would benefit from having an intermission which would invariably send fans to the concession stands during the lull. And ultimately for the fans, there would be more or at least as much racing, and more meaningful racing, packed into the day.

In my opinion, Sprint Cup races should be shorter for the reasons I listed above. But there is a way in which television, tracks and fans could come out better in the end.

And as for my walking, I plan to be doing more of it but I’m afraid my neighbors may think I’m disoriented or worse as I often wander all over the road while looking down at my phone. Join me on Twitter if you would like to get in on the discussion.

Topics: Articles |

8 Responses to “Most Sprint Cup races should be shortened”

  1. zhills fan Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Rich, I agree with your thought on shorter races, but don’t get carried away with the qualifying races thing. If you remember correctly they tried breaking the truck series into two segments when they first started, and that sure didin’t work. What about pit stops, that would vertually eliminate them and that is the best part of the race as far as I’m concerned. More races are won and lost in the pits than anywhere else I think. Anyway….. next time. lol

  2. Charles Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 6:48 am


    I disagree totally with your idea of shortening of Nascar races!

    I have been going to races since 1963 and the idea that we went to see a endurance race was not the idea!

    I have a teenager as well and as long as something is insteresting to them there attention spand will follow it!They dont mind texting all day, when they could use a cell phone and talk, I honestly beleive if the ‘cell phone” had been invented after the texting, they would have quit texting and started uses phones!!

    Take golf or baseball, or even football, do you think the idea of shorten these would benefit the sport! Or fans say lets just play 3 ending of baseball?These same NEW Generation fans love the Old NFL dont they?

    Has the Charlotte All Star race been better racing that the Coke 600? Or the New Hampshire 300 better than most 500 mile events?

    Until you fix the main problem and thats exciting races in the “mid portain” and Nascar does something to make itself look more authentic instead of seemly running a WWF business plan I predict shortening the races has no effect!

    Besides I have the option to leave, cut off TV, or not go, I refuse to have to pack fight traffic or drive 3 hours not to mention having to see only a 2 hour show and pay the same price at the same price even if boring !

    If I was looking for shorter and exciting auto sports then turn to NHRA,or local dirt tracks which I like as well! But for Nascar it needs to be 400 to 500 show!

  3. Kevin Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I do not believe that short races, or qualifying races are the answer. Just look at this years all-star race as the perfect example. Worst race in memory. I can’t think of a single thing that made me sit on the edge of my chair till Edwards wrecked his car in celebration. At the end of the 600 however, I was chewing my fingernails, on the edge of my seat, heart beating to see who was going to make it to the end.
    The key to dealing with the short attention spans of todays youth is in online content and social media. Unfortunately this won’t happen until the end of the current TNT online rights deal which I believe runs through 2014. When the kids can sit on their laptops and stream the race to their phones and eventually dvr the race and watch it on their phones there will be sufficient content to hold their attention. At least until the next technological advance.
    It boggles my mind why TNT don’t make a deal with FOX and ESPN to licence the online rights. Thus ESPN & Fox still get their exposure and TNT gets paid for something they are only using part of the season. If they create a licencing deal for online content where TNT gets their exposure through ad placement and FOX & ESPN get their exposure by hosting the events everyone wins. Plus this way TNT holds main negotiating rights when it comes time to renew.

    As for the races themselves, NASCAR needs to reward bonus points at different intervals throughout the race to encourage drivers to get to the front. In the past I have proposed a points system that rewards the winner with 100, 2nd 90, 3rd 81, 4th, 73, 5th 66, 6th 60, 7th 55, 8th 51, 9th 48, 10th 46, 11th - 43rd decrease by 1 point. Instead of bonus for leading a lap, 3 bonus points for leading at the 20%, 40%, 60% & 80% laps complete marks. In this way drivers are encouraged to get to the front and stay there, and they are rewarded the closer they get to the front. The length of the race won’t matter because it’ll be hard fought racing for all 500 miles.

    I doubt it’ll ever happen, just like NASCAR actually shortening the races, but hey, you never know. I just believe that if the whole race is exciting lenght doesn’t matter. If I want to see a shootout, I’ll head to the local dirt track.

  4. Russ Edwards Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Richard. Right on target, there are probably less and less fans who watch a race from beginning to end these days. Mainly because the middle portion has very little to do with the results. What with the “lucky dog” and “wave arounds”, only from the last pit stop to the end matters.
    The only thing I would disagree on is qualifying. With the lack of cars that wont make the field, and the length of the racing, it has become worthless. Doesnt matter whether you start on the pole or last it doesnt matter. Go green and just stop wasting gas and tires.

  5. Glen H. Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 5:09 pm


    I agree that the races should be shortened and I have one more reason to add as to why they should be shortened: People just don’t have the amount of free time that they used to have. They can’t spend 4+ hours sitting in front of the TV anymore, they have other things they need to do.

  6. Jeff Says:
    June 11th, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I respect your opinion Rich, but I very much disagree. They have taken away 100 miles from my Cali race. I do feel short changed about 20% while paying the same price. My opinion is we don’t need to shorten the length of the races, but the way the races are ran by NASCAR.

    I don’t agree with DW all that much, but a couple of years ago he said it best. The races aren’t too long, it’s just taking too long to run them. I say we need less cautions for debris(seen and unseen–the drivers are pretty safe), less cautions for single car spins where a car hits nothing, less cautions for perceived “oil on the track” after a motor blows. What I am saying is: we need less cautions and more green flag racing and green flag pit stops. These things are what makes the races compelling. Well at most times that is. Not all races will be barn burners. I do LOVE NASCAR racing still, but as Tony said in 2007 at Phoenix, anyone that thinks we’re going in the right direction with all these debris cautions is nuts.

    I believe the last race to go caution free was the Fall Talladega race in 2002. We need more races where that can happen. There’s no reason it can’t happen in some of today’s races. I just feel NASCAR wants to tamp down on real long green flag runs, as it keeps the racing tighter(for a little while), and keeps the winning margins closer. I am a stats kind of guy, but I could care less what the average margin of victory is for the whole season. I could care less the avg. # of cars on the lead lap. Give me 300 to 600 miles/laps in every race in Cup and give me me shorter race times due to less cautions and I will be happiest while watching NASCAR races.

    Just my opinion……………Jeff

  7. NaBUru38 Says:
    June 13th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    “After qualifying on Saturday, the field could be broken into four groups. Those four groups would compete in 25 mile or lap qualifying races on Sunday. Those races would determine starting positions for the main event and would also determine pit stall selection, which would cause drivers to race hard in the qualifiers.”

    That’s what the Argentines (my neighbors) have been doing for decades. The Turismo Carretera has three 15min qualifying races with split grids (about 18 cars each) and a 50min final race with 42 cars.

    If this format was used, I’d have three 40-50 mile qualifying races and a 300 mile final race in intermediate and superspeedways, and 25-30 mile qualifying races and a 200 mile final race in short tracks. A few races would remain like now - Daytona in February, Talladega in April, Charlotte in May, Sonoma in June, Watkins Glen and Indianapolis in July, Bristol in August and the final race in November.

  8. Kirk Linkevich Says:
    June 14th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Stop and smell the roses.

    It’s a damn shame. Everyone around me complains they just don’t have enough tyme to get everything done. So let’s speed up play in baseball & football and now I hear it in NASCAR. Where does it end. Why is it we live in a society today that we feel the need to get more done in less tyme. That’s akin to sucking down a steak and lobster dinner so fast you can’t even taste it. What ever happened to savoring? I just so happen to really enjoy watching NASCAR on TV or at the track and plan my day around it. I often wonder why it ends so soon. Maybe there is something wrong with me. I’m sure all you folks in such a hurry to race to the end of your life may think I’m nuts but at least I’m enjoying my journey. I suppose it’s like sex. You’re gonna have those who think it’s over too soon and others who think 30 seconds was too long! Leave the racing circuit alone. If I want to see the Coca-Cola 100, I’ll just run down to watch ‘em tear it up at the local dirt track on a Saturday night.