The new Chase for the Sprint Cup format had a nice start in 2014, but NASCAR still has to figure out other ways to augment its current fan base with newer ones.
A concept that has been repeatedly batted around for some time now is mid-week races, particularly during the summer months where NASCAR would face less TV competition from other sports.
In the past, drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman have championed the idea.
But NASCAR Chairman Brian France didn’t seem too keen on it during his Tuesday appearance on Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR Live radio show.
“One challenge that we have, among others, is the current events that we have – no one wants to give any of those up, so start with that,” France said when asked about the subject by host Eli Gold.
“The other challenge that we would have is we don’t have home teams…What we rely on are 80 to 100,000 – and even more – people to make a weekend out of something, drive on average 200-plus miles, often stay more than two days, and bring their families.
“When you start doing that in mid-week with school and everything else – even in the summer – those kind of opportunities to draw people to these big speedways becomes more difficult.”
And while the aforementioned new Chase format has provided a jolt to NASCAR’s post-season, a common complaint about the Chase remains that its current 10-track lineup could use a shakeup.
Five of the 10 tracks are 1.5-mile, intermediate ovals that already dominate the Cup landscape, and they include Homestead-Miami Speedway, which hosts the season finale.
A road race in the run to the championship could provide some more spice, especially considering how good NASCAR’s product on the twisty tracks has become.
But France indicated that perhaps we shouldn’t be holding our breath on that, either.
“We’re not opposed to it, but from a calendar standpoint, there’s only two [Sprint Cup road course] venues of course, and both of them like their dates for different reasons,” he said. “So, [it’s] unlikely to see that happening, only because of, really, how the dates fall.”
Sonoma Raceway in California hosts Sprint Cup in late June, while Watkins Glen International in New York State has its Cup weekend in early August.