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Volume 22 No. 14
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NASCAR considering 2-day race weekends

Could the NASCAR race weekend get shorter?

In one of about 15 to 20 initiatives being studied around the race-day experience, NASCAR stakeholders are considering tweaking some race weekends to make them two-day events rather than three-day affairs.

The proposal is still being evaluated and might not be adopted. The various initiatives being studied are across categories including fan engagement and experience, safety, inspection and pit-road policies.

The premise of the two-day proposal for race weekends is that some races during NASCAR’s 10-month, 36-race Cup Series season may be better off being held in 48 hours rather than 72. Race weekends now are generally three-day affairs, typically running Friday to Sunday or, if there’s a Saturday night race, Thursday to Saturday. The specific race weekends that could undergo the switch were unclear, but sources indicated that larger events such as the Daytona 500 are not being considered.

Brent Dewar, NASCAR’s chief operating officer, confirmed that the proposal is one of many being considered with tracks, media partners and teams. However, while the move theoretically could help save stakeholders money, Dewar cautioned against drawing conclusions about the motivation of the measure.

“The category [of this proposal] is really around innovating the race weekend,” he said. “What that means is we’re looking at, ‘How can we [innovate] and, at the same time, are there some efficiencies we can think about along the way given we’re a traveling show for 40 weeks a year?’”

Dewar declined to put a precise timetable on deciding on the initiative. However, Dewar, who has been regarded as a change agent since joining NASCAR in late 2013 after a long stint with General Motors, indicated that if the move were adopted, its implementation wouldn’t have to be years off.

“We come together quickly,” he said. “If there’s a benefit on any initiative that could be implemented shorter or longer, it would be something we’d do. So we’re not holding ourselves to any arbitrary timetable.”

Among the effects likely being considered from the proposed schedule change is any impact it would have on fan interest. Many NASCAR fans plan weekend getaways around races, so the question is whether a change would affect their purchasing decisions.

One other initiative among those being evaluated that came out publicly this year would have reduced the number of pit-crew members teams use. Industry stakeholders ultimately decided against the move.

“There’s benefits and challenges on every one of these 20 initiatives,” Dewar said.