Gas 'N' Go: Are Late Starts Bad?

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sunday night's race at Atlanta should provide scenes similar to this one from last year's race, but are late starts in the best interest of the sport? (Photo: Getty Images)

Untitled Document

The pits are open again and,'s Pete Pistone and Dustin Long each answer this week's featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."

Is it in the sport's best interest to start a 500-mile race at 7:46 p.m. (ET) as Sunday's Atlanta race is scheduled to begin?

MRN Staff Answer
Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone

NASCAR needs to do a much better job in starting races earlier and on time. When a race is advertised as a 1 p.m. (ET) start, the green flag should not fly at 1:19. The NFL kicks off every Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and 4:05 pm religiously, so fans know exactly when to tune in. There is way too much fluff, pomp and circumstance around a Sprint Cup race that every week delays the start of the race. All it does is confuse NASCAR fans of how to actually plan their day.

Night races are even more of a problem. Starting a 500-mile race at 7:46 p.m. (ET) is ludicrous. It robs many fans of being able to stay awake for the end of the event and completely shuts out most kids from watching as well. In an age when the sport desperately needs to cultivate younger fans, late starts are detrimental to the cause. Fans in attendance shouldn't be dumped out of a stadium and into the journey back home near midnight. NASCAR, tracks and television partners (the Holy Trinity in making these decisions) need to ensure a more standardized start time plan for 2014.


Dustin Long
Dustin Long

In a perfect world, no. Then again, this isn’t a perfect world. The race likely will end between 11:15-11:45 pm (ET) depending on the number of cautions. In this era of sports and DVRs, I don’t have a problem with the race’s starting time. Monday is Labor Day and that means many fans won’t have to work the next day.

This is one of three 500-milers scheduled to start after 7 p.m. (ET), joining the Texas spring race and the Charlotte fall race. Will these late races lead to the sport’s downfall? No. There are 33 other points races to watch during the season that end sooner. For those who worry about the sport’s youth not able to stay up and watch these select races, get over it. I find it hard to believe that if children aren’t able to watch the end of three races it will keep them from being fans or make them not want to be fans any longer. Let’s be honest, there are bigger issues in the sport than the length of a few night races.



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