Enterprise: Race in and get the same deals drivers and teams use
NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The 10: 10 Ways to Fix the Cup Series Schedule

This past week, the teams competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series enjoyed their first off weekend of the 2018 season. The Easter holiday gave teams the opportunity to take a breather and enjoy time with family while celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The schedule has been a popular discussion lately in the NASCAR world and we wanted to join in and give our two cents worth. Whether it be additions to tracks or reductions of races at select tracks, there are ways to make the schedule the best it can be with a traditional, yet new touch.

1.) Add Iowa Speedway in June

Iowa Speedway has hosted NASCAR events since 2007. Whether it be the XFINITY, Truck, or K&N Pro Series, the track has been a staple on those schedules for over a decade. The Verizon IndyCar Series also joined the party the same year and has returned every year since.

It’s been almost 11 years since Iowa Speedway made its debut and it’s time to make the June race weekend a triple-header.

The capital of the state, Des Moines, is just over 30 minutes away from the track and is a hub of the Midwest with I-35 and I-80 running through the city. Those highways bring traffic from cities like Omaha, Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, and many other minor cities which surely have NASCAR fans who want more racing. To add to the draw, there are only two NASCAR Cup races in the Mid-West (Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway).

Fans have been requesting more short tracks on the MENCS schedule and Iowa Speedway would begin to fill that need. Add in the K&N Pro Series combination race to the June weekend with the three top series, and the result would be increased exposure for all!

2.) More Road Course Races

No, we don’t mean running those old fantasy road course races you’d race on old NASCAR video games like the Daytona or Talladega Infield. The series needs to visit a few more road courses during the season and not built-in ones like the Charlotte Roval. Tracks like Road America, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, come to mind, just to name a few.

Fans have been asking for a road course to be added to the playoffs ever since its inception, but something more along the lines of “real” road course tracks like Watkins Glen or Sonoma. The three road courses in the previous paragraph are visited by at least one of NASCAR’s three national series, so there is no reason the Cup series couldn’t head to one of those as well.

There are countless other road courses in the world that could draw positive attention to NASCAR, including Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Québec, Canada, a track where the NASCAR XFINITY Series used to race. Road Atlanta, Barber Motorsports Park, The Raceway on Belle Isle, and many others would be perfect for NASCAR and could ultimately draw new fans to the sport.

3.) Talladega Three Times on the Schedule

Before you automatically disagree with this, hear me out!

Look at the grandstands the last five years at Talladega Superspeedway and you will notice that the track has successfully filled them twice a year. Why not race there a third time in a season? If NASCAR can sell out a race and continuously keep fans on the edge of their seat, why not do so a third time during the year?

For obvious reasons, Talladega will probably never get lights, which is really disappointing. However, Talladega is a track that doesn’t need lights to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The one downside that hurts Talladega is out of their control, and that is the high prices of hotels around the track — hotels that are quite a drive from the track in Birmingham or Anniston.

4.) Bid on the Championship Race

NASCAR is not a stick-and-ball sport, but they may certainly benefit from borrowing some elements from other sports.

Homestead, as the championship race, has produced some of the greatest moments in NASCAR history including Jimmie Johnson‘s seventh championship victory, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart’s tie in 2011, and a number of other moments.

Atlanta also provided some legendary moments in the form of championship victories.

The Superbowl, College Football Playoff, The World Cup and Wrestlemania are just a few of the huge events that have the bidding system to determine where the event happens. Imagine all of the NASCAR tracks putting their name in the hat to host the championship race and the events leading up to it. Tracks like Bristol, Charlotte, Richmond, California, Texas and others could push to host the season finale and it would give NASCAR the chance to crown a champion in different markets.

5.) Fan Vote for All-Star Race Location

It’s a different approach than most, but after all, the All-Star race is supposed to be for the fans. Start the vote late in the season of the previous year and let the fans decide where they want the All-Star race to be. Without fans, NASCAR is nothing, and allowing them to set the location of this event would put them deservedly in the driver’s seat for one weekend.

Set five locations in front of fans and have them vote on it via the NASCAR app, NASCAR.com, and a number of other methods that could serve as a call to action. Then announce the location sometime during the playoffs to give fans a good amount of time to purchase tickets and set up accommodations to attend the race.

6.) Return to Roots in Nashville

Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville used to host the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY, and Truck Series races, but the three top series haven’t visited the track since 2000. The only stock car series that currently races in Nashville is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. ARCA returned to Nashville in 2015 and has returned every year ever since. A packed house last season witnessed Chad Finley and Kyle Weatherman battle one another, with Finley ultimately coming out on top to earn his first career victory.

It’s noticeable that the national series hasn’t raced at Nashville since 2000. The SAFER barrier technology hadn’t yet been developed, and if the Cup series ever returns, that will surely be the first thing that will need to be done. Other than that, why not?

7.) Primetime Midweek Racing

It’s time to try midweek racing in the ranks of NASCAR. It could be an absolute flop … but then again it could be a very successful move. No, not every race would be run during the week, but what if maybe a max of 10 of 36 races ran in primetime during the workweek?

Summertime would be a great part of the year to roll this out, being as there isn’t as much on television during the week at that time. What’s more American than racing, cracking open a cold one, and celebrating America’s independence?

Well, you’ll have to put that on hold for a few years, being as July 4th is on Wednesday this year.

Daytona is just one of the races where this concept could work for families. Throw in other destinations that have attractions around the track including Daytona and Homestead, which are on or near the beach. Make it to where families can build a vacation around the event while the kids are out of school!

8.) Shorten the Season

NASCAR has the longest season out of any professional sport, branching from mid-February to the end of November. While they could continue to start the season in mid-February, it may be better to end the season in October rather than November. Fewer races during the year would increase the urgency earlier in the season, reducing some of the midseason doldrums that sometimes creep up.

September and October always result in some of the best racing. Imagine having a championship crowned during the same month baseball crowns the World Series champions and some epic October sports moments could be had!

9.) Combine More Races

The West Coast Swing is one of the more successful things NASCAR has implemented in the last five years and it makes me wonder why something like this can’t be done more often. A lot of tracks are close to one another geographically, yet the series continues to move back and forth across the country. NASCAR shouldn’t travel from Martinsville to Texas then back to Bristol; instead, the order should be Texas, Martinsville, and Bristol.

Not only would this make more sense logistically, but it could also result in fans possibly attending multiple races that are closer together.

10.) Shuffle the Playoff Races Every Year

I’m sure there are regular season tracks whose fans would love to see host a playoff race. Bristol, Michigan and Auto Club are a few examples.

For some reason, the playoff tracks are always the same. True, this season the playoffs got a little bit of a facelift in the form of the addition of Las Vegas and Richmond, but maybe every year should feature different races.

Imagine Bristol or Iowa in the playoffs — or even throw in Daytona. The atmosphere at a playoff races is always different than regular season races and some fans can only go to one or two tracks. Give them the chance to see a playoff race in person!

Share this article

16 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matty

Very naive. There’s the matter of the current television contract and the millions it brings to the tracks, teams and sanctioning body. Any reduction in schedule would have to be addressed on the next go around. Every decision in NASCAR that involves the sanctioning body must always favor NASCAR/ISC, but appease SMI. Therefore no messing with all-star weekend,(SMI), no messing with the final weekend (ISC), no third Talladega (SMI again), no Nashville or Iowa (however great idea it is to add those interesting short tracks). Midweek races in the summer would be a great idea, especially since most original tv programming is on hiatus.

Russ

And what are the track owners, who just happen to be the very people that own nascar, as well as SMC who would likely sue if they lost a date going to do?
Are they going to let weeds grow up around the facilities, or maybe have some concerts. Regardless the only way they make money is by having races, so guess what? Things arent really going to change.

John

Matty’s comment is spot on. It depends on ownership of tracks more than anything else. If ISC or SMI (or even Dover or Pocono for that matter) buy a track, there is the potential for them to horsetrade dates within their own company to improve profitability. During its peak, Nascar/ISC was going to build a short track in metro NY on Staten Island. They bought land and wanted to clone Richmond. That didn’t happen. Shortening the schedule on the calendar is possible, but cutting races the number of races affects the TV contract which NO ONE in Nascar would ever consider doing (since viewership has gone down since its signing). Iowa is already owned by ISC, so a date swap is possible. The idea of mid-week shows or going back to doubling up shows, like a Wednesday and a Sunday in the same general geography could work.
The Duels at Daytona should go…both non-points races should go. Seattle does not have weather conducive to anything outside that can’t be done in the rain.

Kurt

Iowa is not owed by ISC but by NASCAR!

Russ

and the real difference between ISC and nascar is?

Brian

So this is all well and good and been talked about to death over the past several years. As such, there is really no new idea or thought in this article that has not been brought up by many others in the past 10 years.

Honestly the one thing NASCAR should bend over backwards to try and do is put the summer Daytona race back on July 4th no matter what day of the week it falls on. If it is early in the week have no Cup race the preceding weekend and have the other series events lead up to it. If Wednesday, such as this year, makes it tough as would have little time one side or the other to get moved so either off weekend precedes it of follow it. Race that would “touch” this would have to be close to home base such as Dover, Bristol, Richmond, etc. and be a two day Saturday/Sunday show.
Weather impacts this significantly.
Yes need to replace a 1.5 track with a true road course just be a matter of which one.

Moparjeff

Break up the ISC and SMI monopolies. The Race Team Alliance has power to wield, it’s time they started using their powers to shake up the NASCAR/France stranglehold on the sport. The days of replacing a full field of cars like NASCAR did in Talladega when the teams boycotted are over. If the teams boycotted today, NASCAR’s hand would be forced.

The alternative? – we keep writing the same articles about how to fix the sport over and over again, just like we’ve been doing for the last 10+ years. Maybe another decade of hand-wringing will make a difference, but I doubt it.

Upstate9fan

A lot of nice ideas, but few will happen because of the business of the sport. The track owning companies will not just let Cup dates go without a fight. They have shareholders to answer to, and a huge chunk of their revenue is tied into the TV $ that come with a Cup date. However, they do have the responsibility to start thinking outside the box with track configurations, repaves, etc. I give kudos to SMI for reconfiguring Kentucky and Texas, and using the Roval at Charlotte. ISC needs to step up to the plate with similar plans/ideas. I get the feeling when the current sanctioning agreements expire, NASCAR is open to some experimenting.

However, the one thing that should happen is that the All Star Race should move to Martinsville, under the lights in mid-Summer right after the MLB All Star Game. The product at Charlotte is too stale right now.

SmarterThanYo

What a load of BS! But FS writers tend to specialize in fantasy. NOTHING can save NASCAR. The more important question would be: Is there anything worth saving? The public has spoken and the answer is no.

Lynne

Great ideas! Love the idea of adding Cup to Iowa, as I am from Minnesota. I also like the addition of another race at Talladega, mid-week racing, and MORE road courses!

david martin

The “Raceway at Belle Isle”? This might be hard to understand, but Belle Isle is a nature park, a Michigan State Park, and is not owned by Roger Penske or Chevrolet. The Grand Prix’s contract on Belle Isle is up and may very well not be renewed. Keep dreaming.

Bobby DK

Easy. Start speedweeks late March. Every track after that has a double day weekend. 100 to 200 laps on Saturday and 200 to 300 laps on Sunday (or Friday and Saturday nights). Season would be done by September. Get rid of playoffs and go back to point system and solve that problem. As far as all-star race, NASCAR should make composit bodies of old Super birds, Torinos and Buicks and the like that would attach right to their chassis . Have them draw for which one they have to use and give them a day for paint and sponsor stickers. No points or money, just a big trophy. You can thank me later Mr.France.

John Hopkins

The best way for NASCAR to save big league racing is to promote the heck out of grassroots racing. No one cares about the new crop of racers, because other than Chase, no one knows who they are. Short tracks across the country are closing at a record pace. If you want to have wekknight racing on TV, look no further than bringing back Thursday Night Thunder on ESPN, and lets see some short track heroes trying to make a name for themselves. Bring back the Madhouse at Bowman Gray. Bring back the IMSC Supermodifieds at Mesa Marin. Bring back the Whelen Modifieds at Stafford. Televise the LateModel race at Martinsville in September. Televise the Snowball Derby at Myrtle Beach in October. Televise the opening race at New Smyrna in February.

Christopher

Economic reality will change the Cup Series. Everything else is just noise.

mgj

Perhaps it is because I am a commoner, not an insider, but I fail to see what are the “obvious reasons” that Talladega will “probably never get lights”.

Enlighten us please.

Christopher

The sheer size of the overall facility (2,000 acres total compared to 480 acres total for Daytona) would make it very expensive.

Frontstretch