Is Sunday still the best day to run NASCAR Sprint Cup races? Or is it time for NASCAR to admit defeat to the NFL and move the Cup races to Saturday as a writer suggested this week? Or what about mid-week races—would that work and would fans attend those events? Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debated those issues and last weekend’s Texas race. Here’s what they had to say:
Should Cup races move to Saturday afternoon to avoid conflicts with the NFL? Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer, citing declining TV ratings for many Chase races, suggested that NASCAR should run those races on Saturday to avoid going head-to-head against NFL games. Fan Council members were asked about that idea:
46.0 percent said they’d rather see more Saturday night races 33.5 percent said that was a bad idea: NASCAR’s tradition is Sunday racing 14.8 percent said they’d be for some Saturday afternoon Chase races but not all 5.7 percent said Saturday afternoon Cup races was a great idea
What Fan Council members said:
• Can anyone say “duh”? While NASCAR on a Saturday night would have to fight a premier College FBS game, the decline would be mitigated to one or two regions in the country instead of nationwide.
• The problem is not going head-to-head with football, as they’ve done it before and saw huge ratings and attendance numbers. The PROBLEM IS THE RACING!!!! Why does everyone, especially in the media, ignore this fact? The “racing” is horrendous! F1 has better battles and more drama! I’ve grown up and lived in and around NASCAR and it’s sad that I’m looking more forward to the F1 race in Austin than I am NASCAR in Homestead.
• I don’t think there is any need to do anything too rash until we see what happens with the 2013 car. Regardless, if NASCAR fans are watching NFL games instead of NASCAR races then there is something wrong with NASCAR that isn’t fixed by moving race times around.
• I’ll admit I’m one of those watching more NFL this year than NASCAR. Moving the Chase races to Saturday night would be good in one way, but they would also be competing with the big college football games.
• If you really want to avoid the football conflict, shorten the season so it ends Labor Day weekend.
• Cup racing is a Sunday tradition. Leave it alone!
• Why not try it? Got nothing to lose. But Saturdays has college football, so I’m not sure what is a good time slot.
• That would put NASCAR races up against college football games and honey-do lists. I think that would cut the audience considerably. The average person spends more time outside the home on Saturday than on Sunday. Kids activities, errands, home improvement tasks, college sports and travel often consume the average person’s Saturday. Sunday afternoons are typically devoted to family time and televised sporting events. I believe there’s a better chance to get people to watch on the day of the week there are fewer distractions. I think Saturday night might offer a larger audience than Saturday afternoon, but I believe the audience would be less inclined to watch NASCAR.
• I love the idea. You’d still have college football to go up against, but most people will only watch the great CFB matchups or when their team is on—not near as much competition as the NFL poses. The only thing that gets me thinking is what about the Nationwide race? Would you put that on Sunday against the NFL and have no one watch it? Or have that in the morning/early afternoon and have the Cup race late afternoon/evening?
• Can’t compete with the NFL. Chase or no Chase, Sundays from September to February belong to the NFL. All other sports recognize this, so why can’t NASCAR? Many local tracks are done with their schedules by the time the Chase heats up. Continuing to go head-to-head against the NFL is pointless and as long as NASCAR continues to try and do that, they will always take a back seat to it as far as coverage and ratings.
Mid-week Cup races: Would you be able to attend those if the schedule changed? Some have called for NASCAR to hold a race or some races during the week instead of the weekend. If the race you were going to was scheduled to be run between Monday-Friday instead of the weekend Fan Council members were asked if they would still be able to go?
66.7 percent said No
33.3 percent said Yes
What Fan Council members said:
• I think it would decrease attendance. Not everyone can just take time off during the week. I use vacation time to go to the race, so it would not make a difference to me.
• If I’m headed to a race I’m all in, taking a week off to really enjoy it.
• Yes, BUT it would drastically decrease the amount of time I could devote to the race event. As it stands right now I only have to use one vacation day from work to enjoy a full race weekend at my local track. If the same events were held during the week it would require at least three and up to five or more days of vacation time. Since I only have a total of 10 vacation days per year, that would significantly impact my annual leave just for my local race. I love NASCAR, but I would prefer to see many races at different tracks with my time off, rather than one or two due to the time requirements.
• Nope. The ratings/viewership would really tank if they went that route. It must be on a weekend to get max viewers and attendance. Most job holders and anyone who attends school/college would be alienated. Not only that, a lot of fans attempt to make a full day or even a two or three-day weekend out of a NASCAR race. Now you’d be asking the fan to take two-three days off from work for a race in this economy? Good luck.
• Top-tier racing has always been on Saturday or Sunday. Races during the week would be a bad idea and cheapen the NASCAR product.
• I think that would be an interesting change. It might be a good idea for NASCAR, and I could see it getting higher ratings.
• Primetime during the week would be AWESOME. Daytona was fun on Monday night.
• Less likely to be able to attend live, but I would watch on TV.
• I live in Canada. Almost any race I decide to attend requires taking time off. With limited holidays, the weekend helps to maximize time off.
• Most tracks that I travel to require several hours of driving or a plane flight. I would not attend races during the week. I don’t mind giving up a Friday or a Monday vacation day for travel, but not several days out of my week.
Grade Sunday’s Cup race at Texas:
46.4 percent called it Good 26.4 percent called it Fair 21.1 percent called it Great 6.1 percent called it Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• This is honestly the first race I’d rate as “Great” I think for the whole season. Not too many wrecks, and some good old fashioned, hard, honest racing. I really enjoyed (it). Rooting for BK, I, of course, disliked the ending but it still was incredibly exciting to watch. NASCAR’s problem, which is to me the same as hockey’s, is that the sport is much better live than on TV.
• First 3/4 of the race pretty boring. Last ¼ … holly hell, that was great.
• Having the two championship finalists starting 1-2 in a GWC restart is about as “great” as a race can get. Lots of interesting racing going on throughout the pack—but we were there live so it was easier to see it. Not sure what the race looked like on TV.
• How many ways can you say boring?? Just to be sure I remembered correctly, I went back through my Twitter timeline. Not only were fans making jokes at the lack of any fun whatsoever, but the NASCAR media was asking for suggestions on making the race more entertaining. Many of the drivers’ PR people and wives/girlfriends (who usually provide updates) were discussing anything BUT the race. I think that’s a pretty good indication of what kind of race it was. The only race-related tweets were to say someone blew a tire, someone blew up or someone was sent through the grass. No mentions of passing or side-by-side racing or anything else. If there was any at all, not only did ESPN not show it, but the folks who usually tweet it didn’t see it either.
• The ending was amazing. Even if you complained about the first half of the race, you’ll admit you were glued to the TV for the last few laps.
• Unbelievably boring. For the life of me I cannot figure out why TMS has two races. I slept through most of this one.
• Excellent race. Need to make more 1.5-mile tracks 500-milers.
• The end of the race was great. I actually cheered for JJ all the way at the end, and am so grateful for the help he sent to my area for Sandy.
• Side-by-side racing, passing, beating and banging, GWC finish, fuel mileage, pit strategy, tires wearing out over the run—TEXAS is racing!
• Aside from the excitement at the end, this was a real snoozer. It’s amazing to me that we have cars that are supposed to be so close, but after 10 or 12 laps the top 10 are eight or more seconds apart. That, my friend, is not close racing.
The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.