NASCAR officials have said they
are looking at some distinct schedule changes starting with
the 2004 Winston Cup season. Some of those changes include
the possibilities of more night races, and starting races
later in the afternoon in the hopes of increasing national
television audiences. Some observers have speculated on the
possibilities of a Daytona 500 at night.
Here are what some NASCAR Winston Cup drivers had to say on
JOHN ANDRETTI, Driver, #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker
"Night racing is great, but it depends on what night you're
racing on. I wish all the races were on Saturday night. It's
better for the drivers, the crews, and the fans. Places like
Richmond, where all three top NASCAR divisions race and you
pack it all in two days, is wonderful for the fans. The
action never stops on the track, and they always have
something to watch. Another great thing about Saturday night
racing is that now you have another day (Sunday) in case of
weather, for fans to travel home, and it gives teams a day
off too. That might attract more fans to come to the races
then. You usually also see higher television ratings for
Saturday night races.
"A later start on Sundays are tough on the fans, and I don't
know if you're benefiting them. You might get more people to
watch on TV, but for the people in the stands who have to
drive home from the track and go to work on Monday morning,
it might be a bit harder on them. NASCAR
is always looking at the fans and ways to better the sport.
They have to look at it to see if the benefit outweighs the
reward for the fans. I don't want to see anything more
difficult on the fans, and that's why I think Saturday night
races are the best benefit.
"If you're going to run the Daytona 500 at night then you
might as well move it to the last race of the year. That's
how much of a change that would be. Anytime you talk about
the Daytona 500, or races like the Southern 500 or even Indy
500, you are talking about tradition. You can't change the
tradition of the Daytona 500. There is a sense of history to
certain races. The Daytona 500 has history to it, and you
just don't mess with tradition too much."
DERRIKE COPE, Driver, #37 Friendlyís Chevrolet:
"Iím pretty much for more night races. I like the night time
races. They are exciting for the fans, and the fans like
them too. The prime time slots might help us with the
television numbers. There are a lot of positives.
"From a sponsorís standpoint, they are good not just because
there might be better TV numbers but because those logos pop
off so well. You can see the ĎFriendlyísí on our car pretty
well but with a little creativity, thatís going to pop off
even better in a night race - for the fans in the stands and
the ones watching on television.
"Weather conditions play a pretty large factor. A night race
at Rockingham in February is going to be pretty tough, but a
Saturday night race in the summertime just about anywhere
can be great. Saturday night races give the fans an extra
day to get home, and it gives the teams some extra time off
"The mid-afternoon starts are a mixed bag. The way a lot of
teams are structured right now, youíre looking at a
chartered flight getting home a few hours later than it
normally would on Sunday night. Thatís not always fun but
itís not that big of a deal. It would tend to affect the
smaller teams more from that standpoint. A team like mine,
flying commercial, would have to spend an extra day
traveling. From our point of view, that would tend to hurt
"A nighttime Daytona 500? Itís a hard question. There is
just something about the 500 in the daytime. There is a
February tradition there. The February weather in Daytona at
night can be kind of cool. Now, for a team sponsored by an
ice cream company like Friendlyís, cool goes with the
territory - but it might be tough on some of the others.
"If they put me in charge of it, Iím going to leave Daytona
like it is - the Daytona 500 on a February afternoon and the
400 on a summer night."
KEN SCHRADER, Driver, #49 BAM Racing/1-800-CALL-ATT
"Saturday night is a good thing. Sunday nights would not be
as good a deal. Saturday night racing gives fans and teams
an extra day to get home, and it gives you a built-in rain
date with Sunday. There are a lot of positives to Saturday
night. As for negatives, I hear some weekly tracks in the
South really get killed with Saturday night Winston Cup
racing. We have a little track in Missouri and we donít see
much difference if there is a Winston Cup race but I have
heard some tracks saying it hurts them.
Iíd say a 3 oíclock or so start on some races wouldnít be
the worst thing in the world, especially if it did help our
TV rating. That would be highly preferable to a Sunday night
race, and sending everyone out on the road at 11 oíclock on
a Sunday night. Also, I like races that start in the day and
end at night. I donít know if the races are better
necessarily but traditionally there is a little more
adjusting, which makes things a little more exciting.
"A Daytona 500 at night, well, I just donít want to see it.
Some things you donít mess with. There is just a lot of
tradition there. Daytona in February is not always t-shirt
weather to begin with, so it could be pretty cold. And, to
be honest, I like Daytona just the way it is."
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