*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideCircleTrack.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the NASCAR and pavement short track racing topics of the day.
Are the start times for NASCAR races appropriate?
Richard: The start times for NASCAR races have been a point of contention among fans and media for several years now. The Cup Series race held in Nashville did not take the green flag until after 5:00pm(eastern), and very predictably in the heat of a Southern summer, thunderstorms became an issue. Many would argue that had the race started two or three hours earlier, it would have been completed or at least past halfway before the storms erupted.
Further, the Nashville start was somewhat of an odd one. It wasn’t in the middle of the afternoon nor was it a night race, but rather, it was in between.
From what I hear, these decisions are largely made by NASCAR’s television partners rather than the sanctioning body itself. And, of course, if they accept that massive check for the broadcast rights, the leaders of the sport are largely left with no choice but to do as the networks want.
While I certainly don’t know the ins and outs of marketing and broadcasting, I have to believe that Fox and NBC have done a great deal of research regarding the best time for a race to start so that it will lure the most possible viewers. Obviously, the broadcasting partners are hoping to not only get the core fans to watch but also want to capture eyeballs from coast to coast. With there being four time zones across the United States, they have to find a time best suited for the entire country.
All that said, the time is coming soon for NASCAR to enter into negotiations for new TV contracts. I, for one, wish they negotiate a way to have races run either in the early afternoon or at night rather than right in the middle.
Michael: I don’t care for the late afternoon start times either. If it’s your intention to watch a race, you’re whole day is taken up unless you opt to record it and watch it later.
With the race at Nashville being last night and a race at Atlanta coming up in a couple of weeks, those races should be scheduled as night races. This just in…it’s very hot in the summer in the South. Asking fans to sit out in the 90+ temperatures for hours is a bit much. Remember, they moved the second Talladega race to the fall to get away from the brutal July temperatures in Alabama.
Some argue running Sunday night races would be a determent to attendance. Setting start times for races at 5 p.m. isn’t exactly being fan friendly. I really don’t buy that argument. I think Sunday night races in hot locations at tracks with lights would be good thing to do. There isn’t much else on TV, sports or regular programming, on Sunday nights during the summer months.
NBC has now taken over coverage of the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races. Your thoughts?
Richard: I don’t dislike Fox’s personalities and I thought they did a good job of keeping their broadcasts fresh by bringing in guest hosts to join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer in the booth. And I believe their team is very experienced and able to provide good information from the pits.
That said, the biggest criticism I hear about Fox has to do with the number of commercials aired during their broadcasts. That criticism seems to be a valid one.
Even though Fox does a relatively good job, it is nice to hear different voices and get fresh perspectives from the NBC team. I don’t know if I’m in the majority or not but I like the dynamic they have with the two former drivers in Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton. And I think Steve Letarte does a great job of explaining things as was the case with his demonstration of how the wheels and tires are changed on the Next Gen car.
Time will tell whether or not NBC shows as many commercials as Fox seemed to this season because it was difficult to tell based on their first broadcast since it was a rain interrupted event.
All in all, though, I am hopeful that NBC will do a good job of presenting the race toward and through the NASCAR Playoffs.
Michael: I read a lot from fans on the TV coverage and there is a mixed bag when it comes to how they respond to both networks.
Mike Joy is the best in the business when it comes to calling races with his knowledge of the sport, and enthusiasm for the sport. I’ll take him over Rick Allen any day. No disrespect to Allen, but Joy is right up there with Ken Squier. I think Fox does a great job with their audio.
One complaint I have about Fox is how little their pit reporters contribute to the broadcast. That was evident last night. The NBC pit reporters relayed a lot of information and were called upon many times.
Another complaint about Fox is they make their broadcasts too goofy. From the pit walk with Michael Waltrip to the cartoon driver photos, they don’t seem to take it as seriously as they do the other sports they cover.
I think NBC has too many announcers in the booth, but they blend together nicely. Jeff Burton and Dale Jr. can both get a little too squeaky in their voices when something exciting happens.
It seems as if we see major mistakes by pit crews on a weekly basis. What’s the problem?
Richard: The Next Gen car has now been here for almost half of a season yet we are still seeing the same mistakes made on pit road on a weekly basis. I can’t really explain what the problem is. You know these teams practice a great deal but we’re still seeing loose wheels and collisions on pit road.
It seems as if Bubba Wallace’s crew makes a major mistake every week, and in one recent race, Kevin Harvick called his crew a bunch of “wankers”. It’s almost inexplicable.
The only thing I can come up with is the fact that the competition is so much closer because of the Next Gen that teams are trying to gain as many spots as they can on pit road and are simply failing to cover all the bases. The pressure is intense and the mistakes seem to be even more magnified this season than ever before.
Ultimately, I believe the issues revolve around the fact that being first off pit road is the best way to win races and crew members are being too frantic as they try to achieve that goal.
Michael: Yeah, I don’t have an answer for it either. Last year, Kyle Larson’s pit crew was the best all season. This year, they’re either making mistakes or just a bit off the faster crews this year. My guess would be it’s just mistakes being made because old habits are hard to break. They’ve made pit stops with 5 lugs for so long, some tire changers must revert to that every now and then. As an example, we’re still seeing drivers not shifting correctly because the old “H” pattern is gone, but drivers tend to forget out of habit.
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