Friday, September 25, 2009
NASCAR eyes more 2-day weekends
By David Newton
DOVER, Del. -- NASCAR is exploring the possibility of more two-day weekends for 2010 in an effort to help organizations save money.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said such scenarios typically are considered every year, but with tough economic times there is more support from organizations than in the past.
"It's just now sometimes you make a change and people are more sensitive to that because everything is under a microscope,'' Pemberton said on Friday at Dover International Speedway. "A team might say in the past showing up on a Friday morning versus a Thursday night didn't really matter to them.
"Now there are things that play out that are different.''
Pemberton didn't know what the savings would be, but it has been estimated that it costs $300,000 to $600,000 per car for an average three-day weekend. Cutting a small portion of that would result in millions for some organization over the course of a 36-race season.
Pemberton said the response from organizations and fans over cutting the Atlanta race on Labor Day weekend from three to two days has been positive.
He added that changing the length of the weekend depends on the number of events scheduled at the track. For instance, last weekend's race at New Hampshire would have been tough with the number of smaller series competing in addition to Sprint Cup and Trucks and no lights.
"It's not a very consistent thing week in and week out,'' Pemberton said. "You have to leave enough margin to look out for the weather, too. You can't take up all your wiggle time.''
NASCAR also is finalizing plans to move to more consistent start times -- 1 p.m. for most East Coast races, 3 or 4 p.m. for West Coast -- as the NFL has. Pemberton said that not only will make it easier for fans, but save money if teams get home earlier on Sunday night and shorten the work week.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the governing body is focused on getting start times finalized before changing the length of the weekend.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.