Is the new NASCAR schedule a good or bad thing? So far it looks like NASCAR has hit a home run with its new schedule. Well, at least a solid stand up triple.
NASCAR has released its 2015 schedule for all three of its premier series and fans of Darlington International Speedway could not be more excited. The new schedule has been rumored to have several changes but fans were not really clear on how things were going to line up until Bristol Motor Speedway announced its new dates during their recent race weekend.
After that pieces of the puzzle fell into place speculation began to grow on if Darlington would get its famed Labor Day weekend race back after an eleven year absence. Now the wait is over; NASCAR has released the new schedule and Darlington, also known as “the Lady in Black,” will have their holiday celebration back.
The move returns Darlington to Labor Day which means Atlanta Motor Speedway has a new date as well. The schedule also created a better version of the “West Coast Triple Header” which is a string of races at West Coast tracks in the spring that’s done to avoid bad weather in the East. According to NASCAR officials the moves were done with the help of the tracks and with TV networks in mind.
"It was really a result of some great collaboration from the entire industry," NASCAR Executive Vice President & Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said.
"The tracks recognized this was an opportunity for us if we could collectively, with NBC and FOX coming on board, look at some of the venues that may have had challenged dates and put them in a better position to succeed.”
The Good Things
The first obvious good thing about the new schedule is moving the Labor Day race back to Darlington. For the last eleven years the event has been run at Atlanta Motor Speedway and a constant gripe by old school race fans was that Labor Day was a Darlington tradition. So, now all of those fans that didn't go to Atlanta using the “Lady in Black” excuse can now back their words up and buy a Darlington ticket.
Another great move is actually Atlanta losing the Labor Day weekend as they have long been a victim of the start of college football. The “ATL” sits in the heart of SEC and ACC football country and the metro area has several schools that have college teams. It’s hard to beat opening day for the Georgia Bulldogs and the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech.
A Couple of Bad Things
Above I bragged that Atlanta not having to fight college football would be a good thing. And I think it is. However; now with a new date of March 1st the Atlanta race weekend will have to fight Mother Nature.
Early spring in the South is a combination of cold, hot, warm, breezy, humid, rainey, cool, and dry weather. In short… you just never know. I live near the ATL and we could have freezing temps or a heat wave in early spring. March first is really just the end of February.
Another bad thing in my opinion is that the schedule indicates that both FOX and NBC plan on airing many of their races on their secondary networks such as FOX Sports 1 and the NBC Sports Network. Over half of the races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will be on secondary stations that not everybody has.
That means that many NASCAR fans will have to buy additional packages from their cable or satellite providers in order to watch the races. Seems like a nice way to lose some fans that can’t afford big cable bills let alone tickets. In my opinion you can expect TV ratings for races on secondary TV channels to plummet.