NASCAR has run into a couple of schedule snafus over the last couple of seasons that may finally force changes in race dates.
Don’t get excited if you think everything that’s wrong with the current set of race dates is going to be fixed in one swoop. It’s not going to happen as NASCAR Chairman Brian France indicated recently during a radio interview via NASCAR radio on SiriusXM.
France acknowledged that weather has been an issue at certain tracks at certain times of the year and that traveling across the country several times at the start of the season were issues.
Everyone knows that it rains in the afternoon during July in the state of Florida. So, why have a late afternoon race there? The same thing can be said about the Bristol Spring race. Weather in East Tennessee in the early spring often includes fog, snow, sleet, and rain. The chairman stopped short of indicating any huge changes would take place but those issues would be considered.
“There’s not going to be a dramatic change,” France said while addressing the scheduling question and possible changes. “But there may be some things that are a little different. That’s not unusual.”
The Changing Schedule
He’s right, the schedule has evolved over the years. It’s adapted to track ownership changes, new venues, closed venues, added dates in new states, and tried to grow as the sport grew across the country. Now things seem to be spread out in a hap-hazard manner that often burns gas and money as race teams crisscross the country during certain months of the year.
Is there a big plan on fixing those issues yet? Nope; it does not look like a big fix is on the way according to France. But some tweaking of the schedule will take place.
“You come back to moving dates around and whatever else, we don’t do a lot of it, but we do a little of it from time to time and this will be one of those moments,” France said.
Networks Play a Role
One reason a change in the schedule can take place, no matter how slight, is due to the changes with broadcasting companies covering races. FOX and NBC are the heavy hitters with the cameras for the upcoming season as TNT and ESPN exit the picture. This means that contracts for race dates with former broadcasting companies were most likely part of the deal with the new contracts with FOX and NBC.
You can bet that NASCAR held an option to modify certain dates on the schedule. At the same time it’s a sure bet that both networks, and their affiliated networks, optioned for certain races and dates that they wanted to cover. The upcoming contract says that FOX and FOX1 will broadcast the first 16 points races with NBC and NBC Sports Network covering the following 20 points races.
Now the question is where the first 16 races will be and where will the last 20 races take place? France noted that he hoped to have a finalized schedule in place by September.