NASCAR has been searching for ways to cut costs in recent months, and one major change has been reducing the number of members of a pit crew that can go over the wall.
But there’s another way that would reduce the costs for teams and NASCAR, and this would actually be good for the sport.
NASCAR needs a reduced schedule.
There are currently 26 regular season races and 10 playoff races for a grand total of 36 races for the year. Several tracks host two races, and the NASCAR schedule is nearly a year long as it starts in February and ends in November.
A fan asked a mailbag question to Motorsport’s Jim Utter about the possibility of a reduced schedule, and he brought up some excellent points. Fans have lost interest in NASCAR, and that’s evident in the TV ratings and attendance. But reducing the number of races would actually make it more likely that fans would want to tune in because they wouldn’t want to miss out on a race that could change the season.
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Additionally, drivers would have less chances to win and make the playoffs, so each race would have more meaning.
“There of course would be initial disappointment but I think if the focus was put first on tracks that currently host two races and have those tracks undertake a cost-benefit analysis for two races, that would be a good starting point,” Utter said. “I believe a shorter, more condensed schedule would be a good thing long-term for the sport. I have no doubt, however, there would be short-term pain by some fans and tracks that lost a Cup race date.”
Daytona, Talladega, Kansas, Michigan, Texas, Bristol, Richmond, Phoenix and Dover all host multiple races. An easy solution would be to cut back on some of the duplicate races for those tracks and possibly alternate which tracks get to host two races each season.
Going from 36 races to, say, 30 would help the sport financially, and a condensed schedule would help increase fan interest.
Also, NASCAR should take advantage of the month of August. That’s the one month out of the year where there isn’t much else going on in the sports world outside of baseball. NASCAR wouldn’t be competing with football or basketball or playoff baseball. Having major playoff races in August would be a smart move because it’s nearly impossible to compete with the NFL on Sundays for ratings.
If the schedule reduction makes matters worse, NASCAR can always go back. But sometimes less is more, and executives should explore the benefits of reducing the schedule by at least a handful of races.