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Throwing out ideas for possible NASCAR schedule changes

The NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule for 2015 has yet to be released, and probably won’t be revealed for another month, maybe two. Still, a popular topic of conversation among fans, the motorsports media, and competitors, alike, seems to be the upcoming schedule. Will there be significant changes? And if so, what will they be?

With there being so much talk regarding possible schedule changes in store for 2015, several drivers have been asked for their opinions and ideas, and several of those drivers have delivered. Some of the ideas have been quite interesting and were compiled by Dustin Long of MRN.com.

Tony Stewart would like the Cup Series to run a race on dirt. The Camping World Truck Series has raced on dirt for two seasons now, so is it time for Cup to give it a whirl? Of course, coming from Stewart, this idea may be a little self-serving, considering he’s the owner of Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, host to the Truck Series’ yearly dirt race. It would probably be safe to assume that if the Sprint Cup circuit returned to its dirt roots anytime in the near future, it would probably be at Eldora.

That aside, it’s an interesting idea. That truck race at Eldora has become, perhaps, the most popular and most anticipated race of the year for fans and competitors alike. Heck, Sprint Cup Series drivers even head to the stand-alone race to compete.

An idea thrown out there by Kurt Busch was one that called for tracks bidding to host the season finale each year, much like the Super Bowl.

I do agree that maybe it would be a good idea to hold the season-ending race, and therefore the ultimate championship event, at a different track each year, or maybe change up the locale every few years, but this may open up a can of worms NASCAR doesn’t want to deal with.

Who could bid? If the bidding is open to anybody, what about the tracks that host two races per year? If they were to put in for the season finale, would they be bidding to have one of their dates moved, or would they get three dates that year? Or would this be open to tracks that would only have one date, otherwise? Would getting the last race of the season simply give them two dates that season? Would bidding be open to tracks that don’t currently have a Cup date, at all, like Iowa Speedway? Eldora? Now, that would be interesting. Stewart would have his dirt race, then. Nashville Speedway has new owners and soon may be looking for dates. What would be the determining factor(s)? Would the race go to the highest bidder? If so, would that be fair?

I don’t see this one happening, anywhere, with Ford’s re-upping of its sponsorship contract for Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Again, it is an interesting idea, though.

Ryan Newman suggested some midweek races here and there. Not sure I care about this idea. The Truck Series runs two Wednesday night races a season at Eldora and Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. I’m thinking that truck race at Eldora draws the crowd it does because of the uniqueness of NASCAR on dirt, not because it’s on Wednesday.

I don’t think this kind of schedule would work for the traveling race fan. Keep in mind, for Sprint Cup races, it’s not uncommon for fans to travel hundreds of miles, farther than most of them are willing to go for a truck race, and that’s not meant as a dig at the Truck Series, at all. It’s just a fact.

Keep in mind that these people work for a living, most of them Monday through Friday. A lot of them probably took a few vacation days around the race weekend, maybe Thursday and Friday, and maybe even Monday to allow extra time for the trip home and time to unwind after the trip home before heading back to the grind. Attendance is already an issue, and I would be concerned that attendance for a Wednesday night race would resemble that of a rain-delayed race on a Monday.

Newman’s reasoning was that it would give drivers and teams a few more off weekends. If more fans leave, there may end up being too many off weekends, if you catch my drift. Just saying.

Jimmie Johnson wants another off weekend somewhere. The schedule’s already a long one, so I don’t see starting a week earlier or ending a week later to get it, so I guess this would mean a race would be dropped. I think I could be okay with one less race, so this may be an idea to consider. Although, consider this: extending the season by one weekend to get in one more in-season off weekend would put the series racing on Thanksgiving weekend. I’m sure drivers wouldn’t want to spend time away from family, but for a fan, it’s an interesting scenario.

The Sprint Cup Series raced the Sunday following Thanksgiving in 2001, when the race immediately following Sept. 11 was postponed and tacked to the end of the schedule. While the reasoning for the Thanksgiving race was beyond unfortunate, it was nice to take in a race on Thanksgiving weekend. Why should football fans get all the holiday sports-viewing enjoyment?

Busch also had another suggestion: switching the second Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway races, making Talladega the cutoff and Richmond a Chase race. I’m not sure about the cutoff being a wild card as big as Talladega, but I’m up for some Chase race changes. How about a road course? I’m all for the 10 Chase races being representative of the season schedule, as a whole. To me, that would mean including at least one of every track type the series visits in a season’s time. What’s missing? a road course.

Well, that was simple enough. Of course, these were just ideas for changes, not the actual implementation of them or dealing with specifics. When playing armchair schedule maker, it’s always easy.

“Armchair schedule-makers at full froth this week,’’ NASCAR Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes tweeted, as quoted by MRN. “Amazing how simple, quick and easy it sounds. #ItsNot.’’

I guess when you have to deal with the specifics and ramifications of your decisions, he’s right; it’s not easy. Still, it’s fun to throw out ideas and come up with a schedule wish list.

Despite all the talk and speculation, I’m guessing actual changes, if any, will be minor. Guess we’ll have to wait a month or two to see.

What do you think? Talk to us on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner.

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Posted by on July 27, 2014. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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