Fixing NASCAR: Schedule Woes

The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule will be nearly identical to this year's slate and basically follow the same pattern of the last decade or so.

But the time seems certainly right to make several changes in 2009, with SMI's acquisition of New Hampshire International Speedway a possible proponent for revisions.

The Cup schedule has really been put together on more or less an ad hoc basis, taking the core template that was in place when the "Modern Era" began in 1972 and adding races as new tracks and markets came on board.

The current calendar is a mish-mash of cross-country trips and several out of place stops that is grueling for teams and competitors as well as a bit mundane for many fans.

While geographic and climate considerations certainly must be taken into consideration when building the schedule, competition and excitement should also come into play.

The influx of 1.5-mile facilities - deemed "cookie cutters" by many disgruntled fans - brings sameness to stretches of the schedule, when it seems the series competes on these types of tracks on a nearly weekly basis.

Rearranging the slate so more of a variety in tracks and racing is presented to fans should be a big part of any new scheduling process.

Rather than just tweaking the circuit - shifting dates between New Hampshire, Texas and Las Vegas as has been speculated once the SMI purchase of the Loudon facility is finalized - NASCAR should once and for all take a clean sheet of paper and create a schedule that makes sense.

Using several tent poles throughout the season for long-established and traditional races, such as the Daytona 500 in February, Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600 in May, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in late summer and the Southern 500 at Darlington on Labor Day (which if finally moved back would be worth more in public relations value than NASCAR could imagine), the rest of the slate could be filled out.

Special consideration should obviously be given to the ten race schedule "Chase" schedule, bringing the series to the best tracks and markets possible.

And by shifting the season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway to Daytona, NASCAR would have the perfect way to bookend its season at the birthplace of the sport. Ending the year where it begins would generate media exposure and fan interest that only the Daytona 500 could rival.

A reinvention of the schedule would be a perfect way to jumpstart the Sprint Cup Series and bring some much-needed excitement to the circuit.

What do you think?

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