Would shorter NASCAR races, Sprint Cup season be better? – USA TODAY
FONTANA, Calif. — If you believe shorter is better for NASCAR, Auto Club Speedway might offer the best way to make the case.
Since slicing its Sprint Cup race by 50 laps to a 400-mile distance four years ago, the 2-mile oval has produced two last-lap finishes for the lead. Since dropping to one annual race in NASCAR’s premier series after holding two from 2004-10, attendance also has picked up.
So the debate was on Friday during practice for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
“Shortening the length of our races would be great for our sport and great for the fans,” Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman said. “It would build the excitement sooner. And I don’t think it would necessarily change the outcome, I think it would just intensify our sport.”
Roush Fenway Racing veteran Carl Edwards, though, said it wouldn’t be worth the trade-off.
“Hell no,” Edwards said. “Longer is better. It’s supposed to be a test of man and machine.
“People pay good money for the tickets. They ought to make an afternoon out of it. To me, I guess some people might be jaded and come to the racetrack every week and only think about going home, but for me to finish a 500-miler somewhere is special. That’s what NASCAR is about to me. It’s supposed to take a whole afternoon.”
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Denny Hamlin, though, said he had no problems with shorter races, especially given NASCAR’s 36-race schedule, which stretches to 40 weeks when adding exhibition events and off weekends.
“Everything is long,” he said. “It’s a very tough schedule, but besides that, these races, sometimes it’s tough to keep your audience for four and a half hours, which a 500-mile race around here would be. You’re going to find out (a winner) after 400 or 500 (miles), so what’s the difference? You’ve had a lot of time to work on your car and get it better.
“I’m open to shortening just about anything.”
So is six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson.
“It’s a great idea,” Johnson said when asked about shorter races and seasons. “Maybe 25 races a year would be really good? 30 maybe?”
WATCH: 2013 Auto Club 400 comes down to last laps
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