By admin | February 21, 2013
By Richard Allen
NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway announced on Thursday that the Budweiser Duels will be contested under the lights in 2014. It will be the first time in the history of the Daytona 500 that these qualifying races won’t be run during the afternoon.Â This willÂ mark another break with tradition for the sport.
For a number of reasons, this writer sees the move to night as a bad decision.
First, there is more racing going on around the central Florida region during SpeedWeeks than just NASCAR. The UMP and World of Outlaws Late Models hold a week long series of events at the Volusia Speedway in Barberville. One of those racesÂ usually takes placeÂ on Thursday night. Moving the Sprint Cup qualifiers to the night may force some fans to make a choice, even though there are for the mostÂ partÂ two very different groups ofÂ people who follow each.
Area asphalt tracks also hold races throughout the week and will be infringed upon.
Any time the paying customers are forced to make a choice, both sides usually wind up getting hurt in the end.
Secondly, these races have always served as a valuable test session for teams as they prepare for the Daytona 500. If the “150s” are run at night, much of that ability will be taken away as there is a significant difference between day and night racing. ‘The Great American Race’ will likely maintain its afternoon start time.
And lastly, if this is just another short-sighted attempt to gain a larger television audience, a look at the ratings for Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited will show that simply racing at night does not guarantee high viewership. That race drew the smallest audience in its history with two million fewer viewers than in 2012.
I know there are many more people out there who will have the opportunity to watch when the Budweiser Duels are run at night. But based on recent ratings, I’m not sure that means they actually will watch. And at the same time, tradition and other forms of racingÂ will be impacted because of the move.
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