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NASCAR Announces Plans To Change Its Race Weekend Schedule
Published November 16, 2004
|NASCAR Trying To Cut Costs By
Changing Weekend Schedule
NASCAR announced several changes to its race weekend schedule beginning next season that will see a shortened weekend schedule at many tracks. NASCAR will hold Nextel Cup practices on Friday and move qualifying to Saturday. Also, there will be a post-qualifying impound procedure for the Nextel Cup Series, limiting the amount of work teams can do on their cars. On doubleheader weekends, Bud Pole qualifying could be followed by a Busch Series event (NASCAR). In Orlando, Ed Hinton writes the changes will not apply “at special events such as the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, where time trials traditionally are run well in advance of the races.” Sources said Chicagoland has not yet agreed to the change while those in agreement include Daytona for its July race, Homestead-Miami Speedway and California Speedway (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/16). The AP’s Mike Harris reported Charlotte, Texas and Talladega have “not agreed to the change because they draw large crowds to Friday qualifying” (AP, 11/15). Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark, whose track also did not agree to the change, added of Friday qualifying, “Georgia Power is sponsoring pole night for the March race; Georgia-Pacific has pole night for the October race. A lot of tracks don’t have sponsors for pole day” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/16).
COST CONSCIOUS: The AP’s Harris wrote the move was made “in an effort to save money for teams,” but Penske Racing South co-Owner Don Miller said, “You still have to bring your people in on Thursday so they can be at the track when the garage opens on Friday. The hotels are still going to have those three-day minimums and you still have people away from home for three or four days.” NASCAR announced another measure “aimed to contain costs –- a combination preseason test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway ... that will eliminate the costs of making two separate trips to the Western tracks”(AP, 11/15).
POINT WELL TAKEN: The AP’s Jenna Fryer reported NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France will “keep the new points system in place for next year, satisfied that the closest championship race in history is proof” that the “Chase for the Nextel Cup” is working. Five drivers are separated by just 82 points heading into Sunday’s finale at Homestead-Miami. France said the new points system has “created interest and a scenario that was unthinkable under the old system.” France: “We may end up making some slight adjustments next season, but nothing very noticeable.” Fryer noted France is “particularly pleased with what the Chase has done for [TV] ratings.” NBC has enjoyed “a steady climb” since the fourth of ten Chase races in Kansas, including a 21% gain for the race in Atlanta two weeks ago. NASCAR “expects the Miami finale to post similar numbers” (AP, 11/15). In Charlotte, David Poole writes, “You don’t have to like the [Chase], but after Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway you cannot argue that it hasn’t done what it was designed to do” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/16). ESPN’s Mike Massaro, on the new points system making for a close finish: “They’ve got to be thrilled. This was the whole reason behind changing the system” (ESPNews, 11/15).