Tighten Up Texas

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They do a lot of things right at Texas Motor Speedway.

The track continually sets the bar for promotion, amenities, media relations and fan friendliness.

For the most part.

Unfortunately the weekend schedules for NASCAR events at TMS have never made much sense and this season that trend continued.

You may have missed it but the Nationwide Series cars qualified for Saturday's race Thursday night. Kyle Busch won the pole and the field for Saturday's O'Reilly 300 is locked in.

But now those cars will sit idle all day on Friday ant not fire their engines again until just before Saturday's green flag.

Huh?

Friday's schedule has the Sprint Cup Series on track with a practice at 1 p.m. local time and then qualifying set for 3:40 p.m.

That's it.

Why the Nationwide teams couldn't have practice and qualified as part of the day's slate, as is the case in about 95 percent of the other combined Cup/NW weekends is a mystery.

All the extended schedule does is cost Nationwide Series teams extra money in travel and lodging expenses to come into Texas actually on Wednesday. And as we know, additional spending is the last thing needed in the sport right now particularly in the Nationwide Series.

Obviously the track is trying to stretch out the weekend in hopes of attracting additional fans for a Thursday schedule of activities, although with all due respect I'm not sure how compelling a few hours of Nationwide Series practice and qualifying is as a ticket buying experience.

It's a similar deal at TMS' sister track in Charlotte, when Lowe's Motor Speedway stretches out its weekends with Thursday night Sprint Cup qualifying sessions and then has teams more often than not sitting idle on Friday before racing on Saturday.

Tracks have done a lot to enhance fan experiences this year including Texas which put together several well-priced ticket packages for this weekend's events. But given the cost of travel and other expenses simply to attend races in this current economy, a tighter weekend schedule that gives fans - and competitors and teams - as much on track activity during a given day as possible is a must.

It will be weird for more than half a day on Friday that the only engine sounds will come from the garage area and not the race track.

Hopefully that will change come November.


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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2009

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