SBD/Issue 84/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Auto Club Speedway Shortens, Renames October 10 Sprint Cup Race

Auto Club Speedway Execs Hope Shortened
Fall Race Will Help Increase Excitement
Auto Club Speedway (ACS) yesterday said that it "would shorten" the October 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track "to 400 miles from 500," according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. The race, which had been called the Pepsi 500, "will now be the Pepsi Max 400, reflecting both the shorter distance and a different soft drink mix marketed by title sponsor Pepsi." This is the first time a race has been shortened since '97, but a shorter race, "among other things, would force Cup drivers and their crews to shift strategy." ACS Dir of Communications David Talley: "We think this is going to create an enhanced level of competition." NASCAR Dir of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston said that the track "requested the shorter race and NASCAR approved it." Poston: "If shortening the race makes it more exciting, then we're all for it." But he "cautioned that Auto Club Speedway's action would not cause a domino effect among other racetracks on the 36-race Cup schedule." Peltz notes Phoenix Int'l Raceway (PIR) yesterday said that it "plans to increase the distance of its spring Cup race to 600 kilometers from 500, or to 375 laps from 312" (L.A. TIMES, 1/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Busbee & Hart reported one of PIR's "defining elements is the way the track and the fan experience change as day turns to night." With the race starting an hour earlier than in previous years, it is set to end "right around the 7 p.m. sunset rather than cruising on into the night." The spring race at PIR "is the first night race on the NASCAR slate, and track officials note that NASCAR was amenable to the extension in order to preserve that distinction" (, 1/13).

MIXED SIGNALS:'s David Newton wrote, "Many race fans and many of us who cover the sport have been screaming for shorter races to make the Sprint Cup Series more interesting and exciting." At least ACS President Gillian Zucker is "listening to the fans and to NASCAR, which is meeting with drivers and owners to discuss ways to improve the sport." But Newton wrote, "What does PIR do in the face of all of this? It adds laps." The move "seems like nothing more than a gimmick to sell tickets." Newton: "Just look at the promotion. The so-and-so 600, formerly known as the so-and-so 500, is offering the first 100 fans to purchase tickets in the grandstand the chance to drive six laps around the track" (, 1/13).

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