FUMES
Monday, May 10, 2010 at 07:45PM
Editor

May 12, 2010



What if?

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit.
You know that when the death march otherwise known as the Sprint Cup schedule starts to get slammed by some of the better NASCAR beat reporters out there that things are starting to come unraveled in NASCAR-land. Added to the litany of NASCAR's growing list of problems now being regularly covered by the more traditional "stick & ball" media outlets - the declining TV ratings, the alarmingly empty grandstands, the eroding sponsorship situation, the waning interest of the typical hard-core NASCAR fan, etc. - the length of the Sprint Cup schedule itself is now being brought up for scrutiny.

Since NASCAR's leadership continues to be shrouded in a fog of indecision - with the fear of the unknown and an absolute unwillingness to change thrown in for good measure - I thought I'd perform a public service for those apparently incapable of helping themselves by re-engineering the Sprint Cup schedule based on four factors: economic reality, operating efficiency, the traditions of the sport and a large dollop of common sense. After all, the most ludicrous schedule in all of sports (next to the NHL and the NBA, of course) is just ripe for the attention, and since NASCAR's fortunes are plummeting by the race, I think it's high time to take a long, hard look at fixing it.

Let's take a look. Here's the current NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule for 2010, which includes 36 races (not counting All-Star and other promotional events):

2/14 Daytona
2/21 Fontana
2/28 Las Vegas
3/7 Atlanta
3/21 Bristol
3/28 Martinsville
4/10 Phoenix
4/18 Texas
4/25 Talladega
5/1 Richmond
5/8 Darlington
5/16 Dover
5/30 Charlotte
6/6 Pocono
6/13 Michigan
6/20 Infineon
6/27 New Hampshire
7/3 Daytona
7/10 Chicago
7/25 Indianapolis
8/1 Pocono
8/8 Watkins Glen
8/15 Michigan
8/21 Bristol
9/5 Atlanta
9/11 Richmond
9/19 New Hampshire
9/26 Dover
10/3 Kansas
10/10 Fontana
10/16 Charlotte
10/24 Martinsville
10/31 Talladega
11/7 Texas
11/14 Phoenix
11/21 Homestead-Miami

Now here is my proposed (and heavily-altered) Autoextremist Sprint Cup Schedule for 2011, consisting of 29 races (and yes, the actual exact dates would change with the new calendar year):

2/14 Daytona
2/21 Fontana
2/28 Las Vegas
3/7 Phoenix
3/21 Infineon
3/28 Bristol
4/10 Atlanta
4/18 Texas
4/25 Talladega
5/1 Richmond
5/8 Darlington
5/16 Dover
5/30 Charlotte
6/6 Pocono
6/13 Michigan
6/27 New Hampshire
7/3 Daytona
7/10 Chicago
7/25 Indianapolis
8/8 Watkins Glen
8/21 Bristol
9/5 Darlington
9/11 Richmond
9/19 Elkhart Lake, WI
9/26 Kansas
10/10 Texas
10/16 Talladega
10/24 Martinsville
10/31 Charlotte

You'll note the biggest differences right up front, as a "West Coast Swing" is front-loaded into the schedule after Daytona. You'll also notice that some tracks that used to be visited twice are now only on the schedule once, including Fontana, Phoenix, Dover, Pocono, Michigan, New Hampshire, Atlanta and Martinsville. There are also noticeable built-in breaks in the schedule throughout the season due to the elimination of those formerly "double visit" races. And yes, Darlington will again host the traditional Labor Day "Southern 500." And one track - Homestead-Miami Speedway - is eliminated altogether.

As far as "The Chase" goes, it would still consist of ten races, but it would begin with the road race at Watkins Glen on August 8.  And even with the schedule reduced by seven total races, there's a new venue added - Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI - which means that not only will there be a third road race added to the schedule, but two road races will be in the "Chase" for the first time. And the best part of this schedule? It ends on October 31st, three full weeks before the current schedule ends.

What are the chances that any of this will see fruition? That's easy: It's simply notgonnahappen.com.

But when the people who should be coming up with viable, workable solutions are seemingly incapable of asking even the fundamental of questions, well, then somebody has to get the discussion started...

 

 

 

Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
New Smyrna Beach, Florida, February 2, 1957. Marvin Panch driving his No. 98 "Battlebird" Thunderbird gets the green in the feature race. Driving that 4.9 Ferrari right next to him? None other than Carroll Shelby. The Texan would win overall that day by a lap, followed by Panch and Lance Reventlow (Maserati 200S). Paul Goldsmith finished fourth in a Corvette, two laps behind Shelby.
 

Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out ford.artehouse.com. Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD

 

 

See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and friends this Thursday evening, at 7:00PM EDT at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

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Article originally appeared on Autoextremist.com ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth... (http://www.autoextremist.com/).
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