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SBD/January 27, 2011/Media
NASCAR Moving Back Green Flag For Chase For The Sprint Cup Races
Published January 27, 2011
A year after shifting to uniform 1:00pm ET race start times, NASCAR and ESPN agreed to move the time of Chase for the Sprint Cup championship races to 2:00pm and 3:00pm in '11. Those races begin in September, and shifting the time of the races will differentiate the start time from NFL games that begin at 1:00pm. ISC President John Saunders said, "Adjusting start times so you're not up against the NFL kickoff times is a better long-term strategy for the sport." ESPN executives said last fall that head-to-head competition with the NFL, which shares many fans with NASCAR, contributed to declining ratings. Viewership on ESPN/ABC during the Chase declined more than 18% in '10. Moving the start times also allows ESPN to schedule its pre-race coverage on ESPN at 1:00pm, right before the race. Pre-race coverage last year was on ESPN2, while "Sunday NFL Countdown" was on ESPN before Chase races. NASCAR Senior VP Paul Brooks said the later times, especially the 3:00pm start time for the final four races of the season, is more in line with big-event moments the sport believes its postseason provides. Brooks: "In Miami this year it felt a little early to have a Championship (at 1:00pm)." NASCAR will keep consistent 1:00pm and 3:00pm start times for East and West Coast races, respectively, throughout the rest of the season.