Size matters: Should NASCAR races be shorter?
In NASCAR as in life, size matters.
And the length of NASCAR races is frequently a hot topic with drivers. Some believe that with the short attention span of Millennials, not to mention myriad entertainment options, that races should be shortened.
And in fact, NASCAR cut races from 500 miles to 400 at Pocono Raceway (2012), Auto Club Speedway (2010) and Dover International Speedway (1997) in recent years.
The subject once again bubbled up at ACS during Friday media availabilities with drivers. Like so many other items, there was no clear-cut agreement in what direction NASCAR should – or shouldn’t – go.
"Shortening the length of our races would be great for our sport and great for the fans," said Ryan Newman of Richard Childress Racing. "It would build the excitement sooner. And I don’t think it would necessarily change the outcome, I think it would just intensify our sport."
Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson agreed.
"It’s a great idea," said Johnson, who added he thought shortening the number of races would be a positive move, too. "Maybe 25 races a year would be really good? Thirty maybe?" Johnson said.
And Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing liked the idea of shorter races as well.
"Sure, I have no problem with that," said Hamlin. "They’re long. Everything’s long. Our season is long, everything is long. It’s a very tough schedule, but besides that, these races – sometimes it’s tough to keep your audience for four-and-a-half hours, which a 500-mile race around here would be.
"You’re going to find out after 400 or 500 (miles), really what’s the difference?" Hamlin noted. "You’ve had a lot of time to work on your car and get it back. Some of the 500-mile races we have are extremely long and, obviously, I’m open to shortening just about anything."
Not so fast, said Bristol winner Carl Edwards.
"Hell no. No. Longer is better," Edwards said when asked if races should be shortened. "… My opinion is that it is supposed to be a test of man and machine. People pay good money for the tickets and ought to make an afternoon out of it. To me, I don’t know, I guess some people might be jaded that come to the race track every week and only think about going home but for me racing, to finish a 500 miler somewhere that is special. That is what NASCAR is about to me. It is supposed to take a whole afternoon."