With Thursday night’s (May 28) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, we have seen four NASCAR Cup Series races in in 12 days.
And we can’t forget we’ve also seen two Xfinity races and the return of the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series with one race as well – that’s seven races in 12 days if you’re keeping track. That includes four scheduled days of racing, which was supposed to be May 24-27 with Cup, Xfinity, Truck and Cup again before rain ruined those plans on Wednesday night.
All that is to say that we have seen plenty of on-track action in a short amount of time. My Frontstretch colleague Vito Pugliese made an observation Thursday on Twitter that I couldn’t help but ponder: the amount of racing we’ve seen is starting to feel a bit like the baseball season.
It's getting kind of a summer baseball feel to it. "Oh there's a race on….rad, I'll just watch this…"
— Vito Pugliese (@vtp1320) May 28, 2020
NASCAR fans are used to a very regimented schedule. They get about a week’s worth of racing in Daytona in mid-February, and every weekend from President’s Day to Thanksgiving, they know they can expect racing on Saturdays and Sundays, whether it’s Cup or Xfinity.
Right now, they’re getting spoiled. It’s a race fan’s dream. Race after race after race – this is the best it’s ever been for a NASCAR fan.
But does it almost feel like overkill?
First and foremost, let me clarify that I know this new schedule is built on necessity and not out of a desire to experiment. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone and everything to shift and adjust, and NASCAR has done a fantastic job dealing with the cards it was dealt.
However, while more racing means more time in the national spotlight as other sports begin their crawl back, I have to wonder if there is a downside to it.
Let’s revisit the baseball concept. I consider myself a baseball fan, but a casual one. It is not often I watch a full nine-inning game anymore. I used to watch every single pitch when I was younger, but that changed as I grew older. Now I’ll turn it on for a few innings at most before I’m set to either return in the closing moments or give up on it completely.
There are so many baseball games per season – under normal circumstances, anyway – that regular-season games just don’t feel important or worthwhile.
The same may be said for casual fans of NASCAR who are tuning in for the first time since few other live sports are active on a regular basis right now.
I’m sure there are some who have enjoyed what they’ve seen and decided to stick around, perhaps even getting into the fantasy or gambling side of the sport, and are loving every second of the racing we have. I’m also certain diehard fans can’t get enough of the sport.
But there is always too much of a good thing. Too many races can oversaturate the television market, and some of that reared its head when the NASCAR community shifted to iRacing during the coronavirus hiatus.
That coupled with the charity golf match between Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Peyton Manning as well as a rain delay wound up hurting the ratings of Sunday’s (May 24) Coca-Cola 600, which earned a 2.4 rating, down from 2.6 in 2019.
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) May 27, 2020
The overload of racing continues this weekend. Following Thursday’s race at Charlotte, Cup is back on track at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, with Xfinity continuing on Monday night, shifted from Saturday due to the Cup rainout on Wednesday. If your head is spinning, you’re not alone.
The extra action will slow down over the next month. The only remaining scheduled mid-week Cup race is a Wednesday night race at Martinsville Speedway on June 10.
In the short term, the extreme amount of racing is necessary and wonderful for all diehard race fans. But will it do any damage to attract the casual fan? The answer remains to be seen.