Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Do Sunday Night Races Work?

Article Contents

In This Article

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Army Air Force Exchange Veterans Desktop

This year, NASCAR is doing something a little bit different. As opposed to staging most of their night races on Saturdays, they are hosting these races on Sunday. Bristol Dirt, the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro, Nashville, Atlanta, and Darlington are all night races being held on Sunday.

Does the change from Saturday to Sunday night racing work? Well, let’s take a look and see how they work to this point.

The TV Ratings

Over the last couple of years, NASCAR has begun to run more races on Sunday nights. Last year, it was just the Bristol Dirt Race and the All-Star Race at Texas. How have these races compared in the TV ratings?

In 2022, Bristol Dirt brought in 4.007 million viewers on FOX, which was ranked 6th out of the 11 Cup Series races on big network during the FOX schedule last year. It was one of only six races during the FOX window that broke 4.0 million viewers. The All-Star Race at Texas pulled in 2.481 million viewers on FS1, which was around 600,000 viewers more than the only Saturday night race during the FS1 schedule at Martinsville.

How about 2023? Well, Bristol Dirt once again ranked sixth out of all FOX network races with 3.45 million viewers. Nashville, the new Sunday night race, pulled in 3.211 million viewers on NBC, which beat out only two other network races, Circuit of the Americas and Sonoma, which are both road courses. North Wilkesboro, on FS1 only beat out Gateway, which was hampered by weather issues.

Based on ratings, night races generally seem to carry mixed results. However, based on ratings, if NASCAR wants to race at night, Sunday seems to be what the ratings dictate. Is the potential dip in ratings worth it based on these other factors.

The Fan Experience at the Track

Night races have one major benefit, particularly during the summertime, and that is cooler temperatures. Instead of a fan sitting in the heat of summer during the middle of the day, a night race can allow the race to be in more comfortable conditions for the fans at the track. That does come with a detractor.

If rain potentially comes in and delays the race, there are two problems. One, NASCAR has less time to work with for rain to delay a race for a race to finish at a reasonable time. Secondly, is a race is on a Sunday, fans cannot stay out too late if they have work the next day.

Speaking of work, if rain postpones a Sunday night race, it moves the race to Monday, and now more fans absolutely cannot come. One of the benefits of Saturday night racing is the extra day on Sunday just in case the race is postponed.

One of the things Sunday night Cup racing does, however, is that it allows more fans to stay for the full weekend. As opposed to a Truck Series race on Thursday night, it can be held on a Friday night. More fans can come to that race and the rest of the races over the weekend. While if the Cup race was on Saturday, that is much tougher to do.

While Sunday night racing benefits TV ratings, does it benefit the fan experience at the track? That is very much up for debate.

In the Stands

However, the major question mark is how the fans feel. That is tough to totally know, but here are some comments on social media about Sunday night racing.

Jason wants more races on Sunday nights.

Tammy Boltz enjoys a race at a time like Nashville.

Devon liked the Sunday night race.

jimbojones did not like it.

Christa O did not like it.

It seems that there are people on both sides of this issue on social media. It’s tough to gauge a general consensus from a few social media comments, but it seems that there are people that like it.

Conclusion

Sunday night racing is a relatively new thing in NASCAR, and it seems that there are benefits to it, but also some detractors. It’s hard to tell if the right thing to do is put night races on Saturday or Sunday, but it does seem pretty obvious that the TV numbers seem to be better on Sunday compared to Saturday.

Overall, night racing has a place in motorsports. Is Sunday the best day for it, well, a case can be made for our against.

Army Air Force Exchange Veterans Desktop

Share this:

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts