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04/01/2014

NASCAR, please, less can be more

6a00e54f7fc4c58833010536fbca9c970cFORT WORTH, Texas – Apparently God is angry at Texas Motor Speedway -  the first of the two races at the track this season will be held on the same weekend as the Final Four hits Arlington.

NASCAR and college basketball don’t necessarily pull from exactly the same demographics, but it doesn’t help TMS’s efforts to be the big show in town on the same weekend of the Final Four. The track is hoping to pull some of those basketball fans to the race on Sunday.

The Duck Commander is 2 p.m. on Sunday on Fox, which is the day between college basketball’s big party; there are other events that overlap with the race.
 
What really isn’t helping NASCAR these days is a deluge of its own product that, while entertaining, is suffering from too much of a good thing. There is literally no offseason, or break, from the sport.

V1-130929890The last race ends on November 16 in Miami, and the first race begins on February 15 in Daytona. Fans need breaks to appreciate what just happened, and what could happen. Like any wine, cheap or expensive, NASCAR needs to breathe just a bit more.
One more month away, and four races off the schedule, would help.

“Personally, I am for shortening the schedule,” NASCAR driver Kyle Busch said earlier this month when I asked him about reducing the schedule a few races. “I think most of the drivers would agree. Our season is long. We run from Valentine's Day to Thanksgiving. We have two weeks off in that time. We have 36 races, and two more non-points races. That is 38 weekends we are off racing. That does not include testing.

“I could see the season shortened. There are some tracks that have two dates and don’t need two dates.”

Michigan runs on June 15 and August 17. Cut one.
Kansas should not have two dates.
Phoenix should not have two dates.
A compelling case can be made Texas should not have two dates.

YUb7zThere is room to move to eliminate a handful of races without damaging the fan base, or the integrity of a season.

Professional sports can be a punishing grind, and especially hard on families. But they sign up for it, so they quickly learn the circus-like schedule, as well as some of the perk$.

That is not NASCAR’s problem, and it is not the fan’s concern.
NASCAR’s problem is the product, and the fan’s concern is getting their money’s worth.

What is NASCAR’s issue is putting out a product that feels special, and not just another baseball game in a season of 162 dates. For years, few organizations in professional sports were any more conscientious, and mindful, of its product than NASCAR.

All of these dates do not make better races, or necessarily a more compelling overall product. It’s just more.

Reducing the schedule would be a major pain. It would involve changing TV contracts, relationships with tracks, and a reduction in revenue streams. But it could potentially make a NASCAR race a bigger draw again because fans could no longer take for granted there is another race coming up in 20 minutes.

Like most companies, NASCAR got big, wanted to get bigger, and now can’t feed the giant. Trimming a little fat wouldn’t hurt.

Twitter @MacEngelProf

tengel@star-telegram.com

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Comments

Rob Tentoy

"There is literally no offseason, or break, from the sport.
The last race ends on November 16 in Miami, and the first race begins on February 15 in Daytona."

Unless we suddenly removed November 17th through February 14th from the calendar (which I'm pretty sure we haven't) then I believe that there are 3 months of no races... meaning that there is a "break" which is usually referred to as "the off-season" (notice the hyphen there?).
So, genius, I find it extremely sad that a "professional journalist" and "college professor" would use "literally" in this manner.

Bobke

Mac Vegas only hosts one cup race....do your homework.

Mac Engel

Bobke -

Good catch. I fixed it.

- Mac

Keith

Who would take Kyle Busch's opinion on shortening the season the guy drives 3 races on some weekends and races somewhere on a weekend when they are not racing a cup race. Instead of whining about to many races do not watch the races at the tracks that you do not like and shorten the season for yourself and leave it alone for the rest of us.

david

Whoa there Mac, I've got a break almost as short as NASCAR in my employment and I sure as hell appreciate it. I work my butt off for 46 weeks and then have to quit for winter. During that time I work, I go nearly NUTZZZZZ if I can't watch a race live. I need that race, I'm addicted, not experiencing one each week messes me up. Although it is not for me to decide, I feverently hope NASCAR at least maintains the current number of races although maybe a little shifting of dates or an occasional different track would be appreciated. Would you go for that instead please?
David

Tracy Raycefan

This is exactly what I've been saying for years. Between the 38 weekends and the cup drivers in lesser series The CUP series has lost is specialness. It used to have a special feel at any Cup race. They were all a big deal. You hit it dead on the head "Just another game of 162" perfect.

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