Dale Jr. & Rick Hendrick join in the call for shorter races & shorter season
While the topic has always been there, the idea of shorter races is building momentum this week. It started with Fox Sports Chairman David Hill saying earlier this week he thought the races were too long. Wednesday, both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and car owner Rick Hendrick said the races needed to be shorter and both said the season should be shorter also.
So, in the last few days that is one of the most influential sports television figures, NASCAR's most popular driver and one of NASCAR's most successful car owners calling for similar change. Now, understand, that California's race this year has been shortened from 500 miles to 400. Also the spring Phoenix race has been shortened. Last year it was a 600K race. This year, it will be a 500K race.
Yet, momentum is building for more changes. Consider what Dale Jr. and Hendrick said.
“I think it’s a great idea, especially at certain events. Pocono races are entirely too long. I think that NASCAR should shoot for about a three-hour, 3 hour and 15 minute televised event and try to fit into that sort of timeframe, but it can’t be done at all times. I think you’ve got to have races like the 600-miler, the Daytona 500 and things like that , but there are certain events. For example, Phoenix was a good race, adding that little bit to it didn’t help it, didn’t make it better. Made it longer, made it tougher to watch. It was a good distance. . Then you go to Pocono and it’s entirely too long, obviously. It’s an obvious, glaring issue with everyone that is there, but it’s like this huge pink elephant that nobody wants to talk about.
“Maybe there’s some kind of a guarantee (of 500-mile races at Pocono) or promise in the deal years ago and that’s something they won’t change. We’ll see how it goes.’’
(SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY SOME FANS MIGHT BE TUNING OUT IN SOME RACES)
“Absolutely. I was having a discussion with a guy the other day and we were talking about how they think the 1 o’clock starts are OK, but they think the 3 o’clock starts might be better. People are tuning because they are available at 3, it’s not that they miss the 1 o’clock, they just don’t need to watch the first 200 miles. They’re skipping that on purpose. That’s what I think.’’
(A FEW YEARS AGO YOU TALKED ABOUT THE NEED FOR A SHORTER SEASON AND NOW OTHERS ARE SAYING IT, WHY IS NASCAR DEAF TO THAT OR DOESN’T SEE IT?)
“I think that the financial rewards from having the season as it is are too great. It’s almost as if each race is a limb that you can’t amputate. It’s too big a deal to shorten the season. It’s not a simple task to say, “All right, sorry you’re losing a date, this guy is losing a date, everybody cool?’ It’s just so challenging. There’s tons of money involved and tons of livelihoods involved and people’s careers and opportunities. I don’t believe we’ll ever see a shorter season. I think in my lifetime, we’ll see shorter races across the board at 75 percent of the events.’’
“I absolutely think the races ought to be shorter, and I think the season ought to be shorter.
(DOES NASCAR HEAR THAT)
I think they care. I think they’ve got so many people involved, I don’t know who are you going to eliminate. What tracks are you gong to eliminate. Everybody has got a huge investment. I don’t know how you unwind what you’ve done.