4 Corners: What impact will schedule changes have on NASCAR?

August 11, 2010

Cosmetic surgery

George Diaz

Orlando Sentinel

Give NASCAR kudos for constantly tweaking things here and there in hopes of improving the product. But this news is relatively uninspiring, like moving furniture around.

Kentucky gets its first Sprint Cup date. A second race comes to Kansas. The Phoenix race is moving from April to February, a week after the Daytona 500.

The biggest change? NASCAR will open the 2011 Chase for the Cup championship at Chicagoland Speedway.

Although Chicago is the second largest media market in the series, there are concerns that NASCAR foolishly is bucking the NFL. Can NASCAR co-exist with all those Bears fans in September?

There's also reason to question NASCAR's decision not to include a road course in the Chase, which certainly would have mixed things up.

Otherwise, the changes are largely cosmetic.

gdiaz@tribune.com

Face the Bear facts

Andrew Wagaman

Morning Call

NASCAR as we know it will never be the same. Maybe I'm going too far, but transferring the Chase opener from New Hampshire to Chicagoland Speedway arguably will be more consequential than golf's groove rule.

Underwhelmed by the two other additions, races in Kansas and Kentucky? Don't be. Brian France promised some "impactful" changes, and he delivered.

Consider: The Chicagoland race is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18, in the afternoon, probably when the Bears are playing, potentially at home.

Instead of merely shortening the Sprint Cup schedule to avoid competition with the NFL, NASCAR is throwing a Hail Mary and banking on hardcore Chicago fans to travel 55 miles south to Joliet instead of going to Soldier Field or turning on the TV. Brilliant!

andrew.wagaman@tribune.com

Changes for the better

Shawn Courchesne

Hartford Courant

NASCAR officials are desperate to stem the tide of dropping attendance for the Sprint Cup Series, and the changes coming for the 2011 schedule should have some impact.

NASCAR is fixing one big mistake it made by dropping back from two events to one at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Now the question is whether the Kansas market is ready to support two events with the second Auto Club Speedway event shifting to Kansas Speedway.

Atlanta Motor Speedway, which has hosted two Sprint Cup Series events annually since it opened in 1960 but has struggled to fill the grandstands the last five years, also will cut back to a single event next year. Atlanta's lost event will move to Kentucky Speedway.

NASCAR is far better off having tracks focusing their efforts on putting people in the seats for one event rather than struggling to try to sell fans on two races.

scourchesne@tribune.com

Label it NASCAR 1.5

Jim Peltz

Los Angeles Times

The changes shouldn't hurt NASCAR, but is that the best to be said about such a major overhaul of the schedule? There will be some interest in seeing NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series in a new race at Kentucky Speedway near Cincinnati, although it's yet another 1.5-mile track in a sport that some observers argue already has too many of them.

Indeed, the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway now will host two races, including one moved from the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and next year's Chase will open at the – you guessed it – 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway.

Maybe that will give NASCAR critics something else to complain about now that they won't have the two-race card at Fontana to kick around anymore. In any case, next season's opening rounds should prove popular with races at Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

jpeltz@tribune.com

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