Time for mid-week races? Jeff Gordon thinks so

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With the NBA and NHL having completed its seasons and the NFL still about a month away from the start of its preseason schedule, there would seem to be an opportunity for NASCAR, IndyCar, or any other form of racing to gain new fans with the concept of mid-week races.

Count Jeff Gordon among the ones that like the idea. The four-time Sprint Cup champion spent his early career in the USAC ranks, where mid-week races are common. It also bears noting that NASCAR’s lower-level Camping World Truck Series is slated to run two Wednesday night events this season.

But in comments made to the Associated Press earlier this week, Gordon believes that NASCAR isn’t ready to consider the idea for its top-tier Cup category because of…well, one thing or another, apparently.

“It seems like every time I talk to NASCAR about doing a weekly race or one midweek, they say, ‘Oh well, if you do it on this day, you won’t get as many people coming to the track, so the track suffers,’ and ‘If you do it on this day, then maybe the track does well but then the people at home won’t watch it because of this,'” he said. “So it always seems to be some kind of obstacle.”

It must be said that Gordon isn’t advocating for the idea of mid-week racing to be a regular occurrence, but rather something that can perhaps surround a big event or a holiday to make it worthwhile – like the 4th of July for example.

There’s a reason why the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was once called the Firecracker 400. From 1959 to 1987, NASCAR’s mid-summer return to Daytona always ran on July 4, regardless of the day of the week.

But from 1988 onward, the race was moved to the first Saturday of July, closest to Independence Day. Since then, Daytona’s 400-miler has only ran twice on July 4 (1992, 2009).

“I am not saying we need to do it every week, but if we could find the right week in the schedule and mix it up, make it special, and make it make sense for the fans at home as well as the ones that could attend, then I think it would be awesome,” Gordon said.

“I think July 4th might make sense because everybody is off on that day and looking for something to do. Of course, we are not off, but I think that is why it could work.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.