On Monday at the first day of the Media Tour that kicked off in Charlotte NASCAR leaders along with drivers and track officials who all worked together unveiled a tiered racing format that will be used within all three national series in 2017.
First and foremost the racing will be broken into three segments similar to what we have seen in the past in an event such as the All-Star. The events now will be raced to the 25 and 50 percent mark with breaks and pit stops in between each with drivers in the Top-10 also receiving bonus points to their final finishing points at the end of the event.
Gone also are the caution clock in the truck series and the traditional halfway plus one lap to make an official event, now the conclusion of stage two will now be considered an official event if rain or other factors may stop an event.
While there is much more to this change in the way events will run in 2017, I will be the first to agree there needed to be change. The demographics of race fans not only attending events but watching on TV, streaming or following through social media are ever changing.
Capturing that instantaneous in the now moment is becoming harder not just for the sport of NASCAR but all sports in general are ever evolving, look to the NFL who are streaming games directly to Twitter in an effort to capture viewership. Tracks are adding new amenities such as WIFI, kid zones, pre/post-race concerts or track take over events and the like.
Fans continue to ask the sport for change, change the cars, change the tracks they go to, change, change, and change. Is it all feasible, not at all! Did NASCAR the track promoters and driver council listen when the fans asked for some change, they sure did.
However racing is meant to revolve around endurance, the best people and machines competing against one another on levels of speed and distance in NASCAR. As time has evolved the race lengths have gotten too long and palatable for the average race fan that no longer will sit and watch a three and a half to four hour event.
This is why a change was needed to be made but not this change. Fans continue to say they watch a few moments of the beginning and come back at the end to see who wins time and time again. Maybe just maybe some of the events that are 4-500 miles long need a further reduction in length to a more palatable 300 or 400 mile event and a 50 mile or similar heat qualifier instead the day prior to give fans value in a race weekend.
While I might still be one of the few left in the minority that still enjoys racing from the aspect of start to finish and whatever happens in-between is just meant to happen good, bad or indifferent whether that’s long green flag runs, fuel mileage, or a good ole fashion Friday or Saturday night short track show down.
The majority no longer feels this way and we must all adapt to the ever changing landscape but in doing so the better approach would have been an attempt to look and further reducing race lengths, introduce halfway point bonuses back and introduce heat qualifying the day prior. While making marquee events such as the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500 double point paying events based on the half-way mark scoring.