By admin | September 1, 2009
By Richard Allen
The NASCAR Sprint Cup race held each year on the Labor Day weekend will never be moved back to Darlington, no matter how much traditionalists may want it to be. That would be tantamount to the sanctioning body admitting they made a mistake by moving the race away in the first place, and they will simply not do that.
Just like the Chase for the Championship and the Car of Tomorrow, NASCAR does not admit mistakes, no matter how unpopular their decisions might be. Perhaps more correctly in their own minds, they do not make mistakes. The removal of the Labor Day race from California to Atlanta is as close as the leaders in Daytona Beach will ever come to saying one of their decisions did not work out as they hoped.
In 2004 NASCAR decided to move its Labor Day race away from its traditional home in Darlington to the glitz and glamour hotspot of Los Angeles. After a year or two the novelty of the event wore off in the race’s new locale and the series was often greeted with scores of empty seats every time they visited the Auto Club Speedway.
So now, the holiday weekend race will be contested under the lights at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The hope is that a three way trade of dates will benefit the tracks in Atlanta, California and Talladega.
It is thought the holiday weekend and the running of the first scheduled Sprint Cup night race in the track’s history will boost the Atlanta facility’s attendance. The date will also allow for the race to be run before the college and professional football seasons get fully underway. Thus, any conflict in scheduling between NASCAR and football can be avoided.
Along that same line, Talladega has had its race moved from mid-October to the first weekend in November. That prevents at least one collision with college football as Alabama has an open date that weekend. Auburn will play Ole Miss the Saturday before the Talladega race but at least there will not be two conflicts to cope with.
The Los Angeles area track hopes to gain from having a race date within the Chase for the Championship, and thus more bearing on the championship. And more, moving away from Labor Day helps remove the possibility of racing in the oppressive late summer heat of southern California.
The problem for NASCAR and the tracks involved is, of course, the possibility that the plan will not work. What if attendance and interest do not improve at one, two or even all three tracks?
If that proves to be the case NASCAR will have to fall back on ‘plan C’, and that is to blame the economy.
This coming weekend, NASCAR should be racing in Darlington, South Carolina. However, that is not the case and it never will be again. That is not to be taken as a knock on Atlanta. As a matter of fact, this track should serve, as it once did, as host to the season’s final race. That too, will never be the case because NASCAR doesn’t make mistakes.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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