NASCAR demands to revamp routine: Weather aspects make mid-March too early for race at Bristol

Weather aspects make mid-March as well early for race at Bristol

By: Jenna Fryer, The Connected Press on March 18, 2014

Races lengthened by delays are becoming an all-too familiar sight at NASCAR tracks.

LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC – Races lengthened by delays are getting to be an all-also acquainted sight at NASCAR tracks.

Of the a lot of factors NASCAR can not control, the climate is at the leading of the record. NASCAR can’;t make it be warm and sunny each race day and NASCAR can not stave off rain showers or cold fronts.

What NASCAR can handle is the schedule. Soon after rain delayed a second Sprint Cup race in this 4-week-outdated season, it really is time to think about some changes.

The Daytona 500 will constantly be the season-opening race, and no one is suggesting that must adjust. But a rain delay of virtually 6 hrs last month pushed the bulk of the race into prime time for the 2nd time in 3 many years.

There is something electrical about operating NASCAR’;s edition of the Super Bowl below the lights, and the race tempo showed the drivers felt it, also.

So just go ahead and make the Daytona 500 a evening race. It may possibly even now rain on race day, but Fox won’;t be forced to fill hours of programming waiting for it to clear.

NASCAR then headed west to Phoenix, extended the swing a week with a stop in Las Vegas, then headed back residence. Following up on the routine was Sunday’;s cease at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, when one particular of the most coveted tickets in NASCAR.

The track has been one of the hardest hit given that the 2008 economic downturn. A streak of 55 consecutive sellouts was snapped in 2010 and attendance for the spring race has dwindled every single 12 months. Some fans blamed a 2007 track reconfiguration for ruining the racing, and there had been complaints about large hotel charges.

The 2 factors are legitimate and accurate. But overlooked is that Bristol’;s very first race of the season has gradually inched up the NASCAR calendar considering that 2005, when it went from the sixth race of the season to the fifth quit on the Sprint Cup Series routine.

That was Ok in 2005, when NASCAR had an early off weekend and Bristol’;s race date was April 3. But the next yr, it was moved to March and by 2011 it was the 4th race of the season.

It’;s meant a race date of mid- to late March, and Sunday’;s operating was the earliest on the calendar Bristol has hosted a race because 2008. Only 2 had been run earlier — in 1976 and 1982, when the race was held on March 14.

Track officials had been not surprised when the weather fluctuated wildly all last week, hitting the mid-70s early in the week prior to plummeting into the 40s when NASCAR rolled into town. The forecast for Sunday’;s race referred to as for 100 percent opportunity of rain — and the 2 delays extra up to much more than 5 hrs, with the race finishing deep into the night, below the lights.

Bristol basic manager Jerry Caldwell believes he’;s got a legitimate argument to get a various race date.

“I feel the correct spot for us is mid- to late April, offered the weather problems close to here,” Caldwell said Monday.

Caldwell readily admits the end end result was one of the most stirring spring races the track has ever hosted, one particular that could make a compelling argument for Bristol to hold all its Cup events at evening.

But that would not function with Bristol’;s present race date.

“The thing that men and women want to look at is the typical temperature at the time of the green flag. Ok, it might be nice at the time the race begins,” Caldwell explained. “I inspire men and women to seem at the nighttime temperature. You seem at our fans, much more than half come from the Northeast and the Midwest and a great deal of them are camping either since of the lack of hotel room or because of the camaraderie. You seem at the nighttime temperatures we have in March, and we are just dropping so considerably simply because it is not appealing to be right here and be outdoors.

“It truly is not about rain. You can have rain anyplace. It truly is about the cold at night right here.”

It was cold Sunday and only a handful of thousand die-hards stuck it out to the finish. They were treated to a incredible race, but one particular that ended below unusual conditions when the caution lights mysteriously triggered right just before Carl Edwards took the white flag.

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton later explained the lights had been erroneously triggered when someone — either one particular of 2 officials or a photographer — leaned on the switch.

“As the day went on, and the distinct scenarios of acquiring up and down, and they were possibly quite cold standing up there all day prolonged, they had bundles of outfits on, so I can only sympathize with the circumstances that they have been trying to deal with,” Pemberton mentioned.

NASCAR’;s official approach for altering race dates is by way of realignment, which would suggest Bristol and its Speedway Motorsports Inc. ownership group would be accountable for working out a change with yet another venue.

“There are so a lot of different dominoes that have to perform out,” Caldwell said. “And NASCAR has at instances pushed back and told us to operate it out with Speedway Motorsports and see if there’;s an individual to trade with. They are in tough spot striving to please everybody.”

Indeed, plenty of tracks want April race dates since the climate is typically nice. So NASCAR has a tough time juggling all the requests.

But Bristol doesn’;t have significantly to operate with in terms of making a swap. There is only a single SMI-owned track, Texas Motor Speedway, scheduled to host a race in April. Texas faces the exact same weather problems as Bristol so a swap is not feasible. But Caldwell would be prepared to take into account racing on the open Easter weekend if it acquired Bristol into April, and he’;d be inclined to take into account racing at evening after the success this previous weekend.

But those are not the type of decisions and deals that the tracks should be figuring out on their own.

NASCAR has thrown tradition out the window on the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format and on qualifying. The champion will now be decided on a never ever-prior to-employed technique of the very first driver across the finish line in the finale.

If every little thing about the real on-track solution is up for evaluation and radical modify, why is the routine itself so sacred? Why is NASCAR reluctant to revamp the schedule, adjust it up a minor, provide some assortment to the 10 Chase tracks and reward areas such as Las Vegas that draw regularly effectively to its 1 race per year?

Alternatively, NASCAR sister firm Global Speedway Corp. has the season opener, the season finale, 6 of 10 Chase races and the cutoff race to make the Chase discipline.

There are answers for Bristol, but it would need NASCAR to perform the hefty. Homestead could be the 4th race of the season. The southern Florida track surely has the climate to host in March. But that would mean somebody else would have to get the finale, and considering that ISC won’;t commit the money to upgrade Phoenix and Las Vegas, an SMI-owned track, wouldn’;t be seriously considered, there’;s no clear host for a late November magnificent.

Or, NASCAR could add a few a lot more off weekends to the routine and try out some weeknight races. Rather of Easter weekend, possibly Bristol hosts a race on a weeknight before Easter Sunday. Or on a weeknight right after the series stops at Martinsville, Va., or amongst Darlington and Richmond.

It can be figured out by NASCAR, and politics shouldn’;t be portion of the scheduling decisions.

It must be about what’;s very best for the racing, what’;s very best for the supporters, and the place the climate would be least most likely to ruin the show.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may possibly not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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