Are shorter races on the horizon for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series?

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France was asked about NASCAR’s comfort with 500-mile events and the length of time it takes to complete those races during an open question-and-answer session with the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) last week.

“I think generally speaking, we want to see shorter events… not in every circumstance,” France told the group, “… It’s no secret that attention spans, especially with the millennial fans, are changing, and we all know that.

“But what we like about it from our standpoint is it makes the actual racing event better because there’s no lull in between the beginning and the end, or there’s a lot smaller lull, so teams have to compete.”

France said a longer race doesn’t necessarily allow drivers time to relax “but they’re not as pressed to be up front at a certain time.

“But if you shorten it, they will, and we’ve seen that when we do shorten it,” he said. “We tend to get better (quality of races), and we measure that by lead changes and how close the winning margins (are) and a lot of different metrics that we use.

“So we’ve got a pretty good handle on that, and … a 400‑mile race will give us, most of the time, a better racing competition, and that’s in addition to the time spans and attention spans of millennial fans; those two go together for us to shorten it up somehow.”

There are nine races of 500 miles or more on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for 2015. The average time of race for those races already contested this year is three-and-a-half hours.

The upcoming Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, scheduled for May 24 (6 p.m. ET, FOX), is the series’ longest event. Last’s year’s 600 took four hours, seven minutes to complete.

France didn’t rule out dropping the length of a race below 400 miles, but noted that any such decisions would “also depend on if there are any format changes that we’d be willing to consider, that we look at all the time, that we historically haven’t done.

“And remember, we’ve got a number of other … national series that we can take a look at things before we have to put it on Sunday,” he said.

Pocono Raceway, which began hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events in 1974, shortened its two annual Sprint Cup races from 500 miles to 400 miles beginning in 2012. The move has shortened the average time of race approximately 30 minutes and put it in the three-hour window.

Since 1998, Dover International Speedway has also run two annual 400-mile Sprint Cup races. The average time of race for last year’s events at the 1-mile track was three hours, 13 minutes.


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