Kicked Into Change

What the NFL wants the NFL gets.

And that means big changes could be coming to the NASCAR world in a couple of short years.

Professional football is considering the addition of one or two more games to its regular season schedule. The NFL would like to lose maybe a pair of meaningless exhibition games and tack on two more to the real season.

Makes sense and would no doubt add millions if not billions of dollars to the NFL's already huge revenue stream.

But the league is talking about not kicking the season off earlier where the former exhibition games used to be but rather tacking them on to the end of the campaign.

That would push the regular season through January and start the playoffs in February, meaning the Super Bowl would slide to maybe the third weekend of the month.

You know the weekend the Daytona 500 has traditionally been held.

NFL officials of extending the post-season into a television sweeps month, which February is, and holding its championship game on a weekend that has a built-in day off for millions of Americans in President's Day. The change would in essence a football holiday weekend.

Such a change would force NASCAR to make some drastic changes to its schedule as no professional sport wants to butt heads with one of the biggest events of the year.

But in reality I think it would be a good thing for NASCAR and an opportunity to tighten up and change around the schedule to make more sense.

Without winter testing around any more, starting the season earlier would actually be a smart thing to do. And I propose kicking things off in late January on the west coast, a practice that was part of the schedule until 1981 when the series opened the year at the old road course at Riverside International Raceway in California.

Maybe holding the season-opener in Fontana would guarantee a sell out crowd at the southern California track?

Then bring the show to Daytona and condense "Speedweeks" into eight days of non-stop action.

The sports cars go first as is the tradition with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Use Monday as a stock car practice day and then roll right into a schedule for the Budweiser Shootout, ARCA race, 500 qualifying, the Daytona Duels, the truck race and the Daytona 500.

Fans would have a Nirvana of racing in front of them in a tighter schedule and not the many days of down time of the current calendar. Tightening things up would also help the costs and budgets of race teams.

I'd also love to see Lowe's Motor Speedway do the same with the all-star race and rather than spread things out over two weeks put it all together for a week-long racing festival that culminates with the Coca-Cola 600.

Then the following weekend go out to Las Vegas on the Saturday of the Super Bowl weekend and get prime coverage on a sports-frenzied two days.

Many believe this is all going to happen by 2011 and rather than wait to react, hopefully NASCAR officials are thinking things through to have a solid plan in place when the changes do come down.

In the end I think it will be a good thing for the sport and its fans.


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NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2009

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