How I Would Fix the Sprint Cup Schedule.
October 2009 Dale Wilkerson
There are still many ‘old school’ NASCAR car fans that are not happy with The Chase format. These fans feel that the point’s leader has earned his advantage through the season, and he shouldn’t lose it.
Some of these fans also turn their nose at the current schedule. In their eyes, some of the tracks, which have served as the cornerstones of the sport have been shuffled around or dropped from the schedule for a lot of new tracks that, for the most part, look very much like each other.
Another problem faced by track owners, except for the folks with the Bristol Motor Speedway, has been ticket sales. The economy, the weather, or the actual race dates have caused some fans to hold off on the purchase of tickets.
As much as NASCAR talks of aligning with some of the other sports, maybe it is time to do something with the current schedule that would make it look more like the PGA Tour or NCAA Football, and then honor the tracks and cities that have been the back-bone of NASCAR.
What if the schedule only made one stop at the following tracks over the 26 non-chase races? Not in this order, except for Daytona, because it has always been early on the schedule.
Daytona, Homestead, Fontana, Las Vegas, Sears Point, Phoenix, Texas, Talladega, Atlanta, Bristol, Martinsville, Charlotte, Darlington, Rockingham, Richmond, Kentucky, Indianapolis, Pocono, Loudon, Watkins Glen, Nashville, Kansas, Chicago, Michigan, Iowa and St Louis.
This would put a Sprint Cup race back at Rockingham and award race dates to several venues that currently host just the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Trucks Series.
Then for The Chase or the playoff portion of the schedule to settle the championship, let the majority of those races be hosted by traditional tracks on the NASCAR schedule.
The big four, Charlotte, Daytona, Darlington, and Talladega should anchor The Chase. Once upon a time, if a driver could win three high profile events, The Coke 600, The Daytona 500, The Southern 500, and the spring Talladega race, said driver would pocket a cool $1,000,000. Charlotte and Talladega are both in The Chase now, and Darlington and Daytona both deserve to be as well.
Bristol always sells out and is a fan favorite. Richmond and Martinsville, much like Bristol, are the tracks that most of the current Sprint Cup drivers cut their teeth on, Martinsville is a part of The Chase now, and Richmond is the last race before the chase begins. It would be nice to see three races in The Chase on the bull-rings. This leaves three dates to be filled.
Phoenix and Texas would retain their dates in The Chase, due to the tickets sales generated by both of these tracks. I would add Las Vegas, because it is the new host city for the NASCAR Awards Banquet and just like Texas and Phoenix, this place sells tickets.
Yes, I would drop the July Daytona race for a fall race inside The Chase. Even with the lure of Daytona Beach and the short ride to the attractions in Orlando, this race does not sell out. In fact, the entire backstretch was closed this past July, and there were still many empty seats along the front stretch grandstands.
With the Sprint Cup schedule just making single stops along the first 26 races, the Nationwide Series could re-gain some popularity by running more events that are not scheduled as companion events with the big boys.
For the ‘old school’ fans, seeing Bristol, Darlington, Richmond, and Daytona added to the chase may just be the icing on the cake to get them to embrace The Chase format.
No, I don’t expect this schedule to be adopted, but it is something to think about. I would like it, and I think a large number of fellow race fans would as well.