Race under three hours? It can be done

June, 15, 2009
06/15/09
5:38
PM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I left Knoxville, Tenn., at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, stopped for lunch about an hour out, took a wrong turn that cost me 10 minutes and approached Asheville, N.C., at about the time the Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway started at 2:16 p.m.

By the time I reached the outlet mall in Gaffney, S.C., for a shop-'n'-go for my son, 121 of the 200 laps were in the books. Before I reached the outskirts of Charlotte, N.C., they were well into the postrace interviews.

That's my kind of race. Less than three hours.

Long enough to get me through a short drive, but not so long that dust starts settling on my keyboard, as was the case a week earlier at Pocono.

Yes, I like shorter races. So do many drivers.

I suspect the fans, judging by the comments on ESPN.com's live chat during the 24 hours of Pocono, do as well.

"Don't get me started on time frames of races," Jeff Gordon said after the Michigan race. "Eighty percent of them are way too long."

Exactly.

If NASCAR wants to make another format change instead of tweaking the car, then shortening races is the place to start. Anything over three hours, with the exception of the Coca-Cola 600, is too long.

It's a formula that has worked very well for the NFL. Frankly, I don't understand how college football gets away with some of those four-hour marathons.

People have a more limited attention span than they did 20 years ago. They definitely have more entertainment options to choose from.

So why make them choose?

Shorten the races. We shouldn't be subjected to five-hour shows any more than we should be subjected to five-hour rounds of golf.

Fore!

What's too long for you?

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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