Fan Forum: 2004 Schedule

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It’s been a little over a month now since Bill France made comments about a potential rearrangement of the Winston Cup schedule in 2004. Now we are three races into this season and rumors are already flying about the potential schedule for next season. Most of these ideas come in part from the TV networks asking for more night races and NASCAR's interest in expanding to larger markets. As we know - with growth comes change - but I would expect NASCAR not to change everything all in one season, but we can definitely look for some kind of change next season and beyond. The future also looks like the series will be racing more on the cookie-cutter tracks, and if more tracks do come in to play in the future as more go to one date-I think they should consider more short tracks like Richmond. Now is the time to tell what's on your mind and discuss what you feel would be the perfect schedule in RacingOne’s first Fan Forum topic of the month. Comments Here

From more night racing to more races in the west coast, these are some of the topics on the current NASCAR rumor mill. To start the first Fan Forum story, I’m going to take a look at some topics regarding the future schedule, and then take a look at a possible schedule for starters to get things going. So here we go…

All Night Long: The current analysis and opinion question on RacingOne asks, “What do you think about more Winston Cup races being run at night?” and David of Pensacola, Fla. replied, “A few are great but too many will ruin the specialness of night racing. It sounds like television is going to force more races into the evening which I think will hurt the sports overall.” To some extent I agree with David but if NASCAR uses new night events in the future on different days of the week it might work. Why not a have a Monday night race? Or a mid-week race? - I think the perfect opportunity to run a Wednesday night race would be the Winston-moving it from the previous Saturday, thus giving the Cup drivers another weekend off. The next day would then allow for a full day of qualifying and practice including Truck, Busch and then a night cap-Cup qualifying. Also I agree that there is something special about night racing from seeing the paint schemes shine under the lights to seeing the sparks fly when the car bottoms out. Current NASCAR night events include both Cup events at Richmond and Charlotte, along with the summer Daytona race and the fall Bristol race. Charlotte moved its fall race from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night this season. Tracks that could possibly hold a night race in the future that already have lights include: Atlanta, Texas, Bristol (spring date) and Las Vegas. Current tracks that don't have lights, that I think could have a night race in the future include: California (8 ET start), New Hampshire (Recently signed a five-year sponsorship agreement with SYLVANIA, one of the world’s largest lighting companies) plus Darlington and maybe Kansas or Chicago down the road. If more night races are to be added some of them might have to run on Sunday night so they don't interfere with local Friday and Saturday night short track racing, but as it stands it looks like they will run Saturday's. For those of you that have NASCAR Thunder 2003 for Playstation or Xbox can already have a little fun with this-as the game lets you race every track on the circuit under the lights.

The Odd and Evens: Until the ISC-SMI feud ends, why not have two rotating schedules where some of the tracks that get one date one season get the opportunity to get an additional date the next year, so NASCAR can test the markets and work out the right schedule. Plus this might open the door for tracks that have yet to get a Winston Cup date including Kentucky, Gateway, and Nashville to maybe pick up a date on rotating seasons. For example maybe Dover could give one of its dates to Gateway/Pikes Peak-or one season Dover would run two races and then would give Gateway one date the next year-giving Dover three dates in the 2 year rotating schedule. The same could go for Chicago/Kansas and Atlanta/Texas/Las Vegas.

My Old Kentucky Home: Now I know NASCAR should stick to the tracks that helped get the sport where it is today, but again the key word is “growth” and in order for our sport to grow I think NASCAR should consider somehow figuring Kentucky into the picture, even if it comes down to the odd-even schedule which I mentioned about. Last season a track-record 71,299 fans attended the Kentucky Speedway for a NASCAR Busch Series event, just think what a Cup race could bring in with additional grandstands-plus the track has lights.

California Dreamin' Attendance wasn’t so hot two weeks ago in Rockingham, so again if NASCAR wants to grow they need to head out west more so don’t rule out the possibility of ISC giving a Rockingham date to California or Phoenix-with my guess going to California (possible night race). Plus if NASCAR needs Kansas or Chicago for another mid-west date that would mean another ISC track would lose a date-but which one? Looking at the list of ISC tracks it looks like Darlington would have to lose a date, but if Darlington adds lights it could possibly help in its efforts to keep two race weekends.

Pocono Doze: Plain and simple – either shorten the event to 400-miles or give one of its dates to another deserving track like Kentucky, Texas, etc.

No More Tests Might be the Best: Eliminating testing, especially at non-Cup tracks, or cutting back on test dates would give more of a level playing field, this would include testing an unlimted amount of times at non Cup tracks. The cutback might also give team members and driver’s a little more time off during their hectic schedule, plus a reduction in costs. (Preseason testing at Daytona would be an exception). Personally, I would like to see all teams to use their selected test dates on the day before qualifying and open it up for fans to watch that will be attending that weekend anyway.

Daytona Finale: Another possibility could be Homestead and Daytona’s July event switching dates, with Homestead date going to another month (because of the Florida summer heat). This could leave another night date for the summer, which might include Chicago, Vegas or Texas. Personally I like the way it is, Daytona in July signals the changing of the guard-FOX to NBC.

On the Road Again: Personally I'm not a big fan of road races on the schedule but NASCAR insists on keeping road racing in the schedule because they say the two road course races each year keep a foothold in two major markets plus add credibility to crowning the series champion as the best stock car driver in the world. Just watch one of these days some road course ace that doesn’t run the oval schedule like Boris Said or Ron Fellows will win a race-and at the end of the season will be nowhere close to the championship hunt. NASCAR should stick to its roots and run on short tracks and superspeedways, but as it stands NASCAR needs the Watkins Glen and the northern California market, so unfortunately it looks like we will have to go road racing twice a year. It would be nice to see Las Vegas get Infineon’s and Rockingham take Watkins Glen’s date-but I think we would have a better chance of seeing Shawna Robinson win the Winston Cup championship before that would happen. (What is everyone’s take on road racing?)

Here’s a layout of a possible schedule to try and stir up some ideas for discussion-Let’s see if we can plan out the perfect Winston Cup schedule. Again here is the link to the 2004 Schedule message board thread: Comments Here


Odd Even
Bud Shootout (NIGHT) Bud Shootout (NIGHT)
Daytona Daytona
Phoenix Phoenix
Las Vegas Las Vegas
Darlington/Rockingham (NIGHT?) Darlington/Rockingham (NIGHT?)
Talladega Talladega
Bristol Bristol
Texas Texas
Atlanta (NIGHT?) Atlanta (NIGHT?)
Martinsville Martinsville
California California
Kansas/Chicago Kansas/Chicago
Richmond (NIGHT) Richmond (NIGHT)
Charlotte Winston/600 (NIGHT) Charlotte Winston/600 (NIGHT)
Dover/STL/Pikes Peak/Nashville STL/Nashville/Pikes Peak (NIGHT?)
Pocono Pocono
Michigan Michigan
Infineon Infineon
Daytona (NIGHT) Daytona (NIGHT)
Chicago (NIGHT?) Chicago (NIGHT?)
New Hampshire New Hampshire
Pocono/Kentucky (NIGHT?) Pocono/Kentucky (NIGHT?)
Indy Indy
Watkins Glen Watkins Glen
Bristol (NIGHT) Bristol (NIGHT)
Michigan Michigan
Darlington/Rockingham (NIGHT?) Darlington/Rockingham (NIGHT?)
Richmond (NIGHT) Richmond (NIGHT)
Dover Dover
New Hampshire (NIGHT?) New Hampshire (NIGHT?)
Talladega Talladega
Kansas/Chicago Kansas/Chicago
Charlotte (NIGHT) Charlotte (NIGHT)
Martinsville Martinsville
Atlanta Texas/Las Vegas (NIGHT?)
California (NIGHT?) California (NIGHT?)
Homestead Homestead

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