January 27, 2011
NASCAR unlikely to shorten races
By CHRIS SYMEON, Sports Network
Charlotte, N.C. -- NASCAR is not looking to trim the distances of races in its top-tier series anytime soon.
The debate on decreasing the time and length of Sprint Cup Series events was brought up again on Tuesday when Fox Sports chairman David Hill suggested that races should be shortened to fit within a three-hour televised broadcast window. Hill also mentioned that 30-40 minutes of pre-race coverage and 15 minutes of a post-race wrap would be an appropriate timetable.
Fox is one of the television networks which holds the broadcast rights to air Sprint Cup races.
NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer Brian France addressed the race length/time issue during a question-and-answer session with the media following his "state of the sport" address on Wednesday in Charlotte. France said that NASCAR has seriously discussed the possibility of shortening races for the past several years.
"There will be alterations as we go down the road to shorten them up by a little bit," France said. "[There are] are no expectations from us to make any drastic changes, but 100 miles changes a complexion of a race depending where you are for sure. We're going to continue to look at that.
"We'll look at the Nationwide events where we want to have good separation between a Sunday and Saturday show, and those will be looking at the length of Nationwide events as we go down the road."
Television rating for races in all three of NASCAR's national touring series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck -- have significantly decreased over the past four years.
Several NASCAR competitors, including fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., feel NASCAR should make some Sprint Cup races shorter.
"I think that NASCAR should shoot for about a three-hour or three-hour-and-15- minute televised event, and try to fit into that sort of timeframe, but it can't be done at all times," Earnhardt Jr. said during a media tour visit of Hendrick Motorsports on the same day France delivered his address.
Earnhardt Jr. pointed out that races at Pocono Raceway are "entirely too long." Last season, the June and August 500-mile races at Pocono took around three hours and 45 minutes to run.
Several races at tracks, such as Dover, Homestead, Kansas, Michigan and Phoenix, generally take around three hours to complete.
NASCAR's longest race of the season -- the 600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend -- took four hours and eight minutes from green flag to checkered flag last year.
Team owner Rick Hendrick agreed with Earnhardt Jr.'s thoughts on lengthy races and noted that the Sprint Cup season, which runs from the middle of February to the third weekend in November, is too long as well.
"I absolutely think the races ought to be shorter, and I think the season ought to be shorter," Hendrick said.
NASCAR has just three off-weekends for Cup teams during the 2011 season.