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Should NASCAR Races be Shortened?

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Freddie Kraft made a bold suggestion on “Door, Bumper, Clear”, saying that, if NASCAR wants more races like Atlanta, they should look into shortening the races. He felt that that shortened race was what caused the urgency that existed in Atlanta.

Should NASCAR look into shortening their races? Fans gave their thoughts on social media, and we at the Daily Downforce have some context to add regarding shortening races.

NASCAR’s Recent Trend of Shortening Races.

Despite NASCAR traditionally being a sport more about endurance and attrition than motorsports like Formula One, shortening its’ races actually is far from a new idea. Over the past three decades, NASCAR has slowly shortened the distances of many races.

In 1993, 18 of 30 races in the NASCAR Cup Series was advertised as either 500+ miles or laps, but NASCAR slowly began to shorten some races as time went on. In 1994, Darlington’s spring race was shortened from 500 to 400 miles. Other tracks such as Dover and Rockingham followed suit with their 500 mile races being shortened to 400 miles by the latter part of the decade.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, new race tracks were being built with the majority holding 400 mile races. Tracks like Chicagoland, Kansas, Las Vegas, Homestead-Miami, California, and Texas opened up between 1997 and 2001, with only California and Texas holding 500 mile events as the other four were 400 miles.

By 2010, only 16 of 36 NASCAR races were advertised at 500 miles or laps, but NASCAR slowly began to shorten more races. Races at Auto Club Speedway, Pocono, Atlanta, Martinsville, and Texas Motor Speedway were shortened to 400 miles or laps between 2011 and today.

This season, only 7/36 races are advertised at 500+ miles or laps being the Daytona 500, both Talladega races, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, the Southern 500 at Darlington, the Bristol Night Race, and the fall race at Martinsville. Long story short, NASCAR has been trending towards shorter races for decades now, but, should they go further? Other modern motorsports have a far different template when it comes to race length that NASCAR could take a look at.

A Look at Race Length in Other Motorsports

The two other major motorsports in the U.S., IndyCar and Formula One, tend to have shorter races. Let’s take a look at IndyCar first.

IndyCar has only one race per year that is currently 500 miles, and that is the Indianapolis 500. Even then, since 2018, the Indianapolis 500 has clocked in at less than three hours ever year except one (2020). Just for some reference, the Ally 400 at Nashville that NASCAR ran clocked in at 3 hours, 0 minutes, and 7 seconds, which is longer than five of the six Indianapolis 500 races over the past half decade plus.

Outside of the Indianapolis 500, no IndyCar race even thouches 400 miles, and races tend to clock in at either slightly above or below two hours. The longest non-Indianapolis 500 race this year was the race at Texas Motor Speedway, which took 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 7 seconds.

Formula One, on the other hand, has a time limit on their races. Each race must take no more than two hours over the course of a four hour window. Rarely do races get close to that mark as most tend to take around an hour and a half give or take. It is pretty much impossible for a non rain-shortened NASCAR race to clock in at under two hours.

The last time a NASCAR race clocked in at less than two hours was the 2012 Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono, and that race was rain shortened to 98 laps from a scheduled 160. That race took 1 hour, 45 minutes, and 34 seconds.

Now, what do the fans think about shortening the races? Here are some responses from social media about how fans feel about it.

In the Stands

Elijah Burke likes the longer races for the Cup Series.

Dalton Good said that the races should be a minimum of 300 miles.

Philip Pack says that the shorter races would make him watch more.

Colby Evans says that elite racing should mean longer races.

Jake Baskinger is okay with shorter races with good planning.

Brett is not a fan of potentially shortening races.

Dylan is okay with shortening races only if they get rid of stage breaks.

Brandon Farris Photography gives a hard no to shortening races.

Larry Lee says that shortening races is a way to reach the 18-35 demographic.

I remember 500 miles at Pocono……….boy those could be brutal.

Okay, this is actually not the worst idea in the world.

On Your Screen

Taylor Kitchen says that she is in favor of shortening races.

NASCAR fans are somewhat split on shortening races it seems. NASCAR has shortened races recently, but is there a limit that fans are willing to go to?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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