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What Fans Want to Fix About the Chicago Street Race

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What’s Happening?

Despite the rain, the second edition of the Chicago Street Race was an overall success for NASCAR. However, some fans would still like to see some changes, and two major things that fans disliked about the street race were the late start time and the stage cautions.

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  • The late start time complaint is not necessarily exclusive to the Chicago Street Race. However, the Street Race is the most extreme example of the late start time messing with the race. Why does NASCAR keep starting races so late?
  • Stage cautions are also a hot topic of debate among the fans. The Chicago Street Race dealt with a poorly-timed caution that was elongated by the stage break and a stage break as the clock was ticking to the end of the race. What happened here?
  • Fans would love to see these issues rectified. However, as this article explains, it’s not that simple.

The Late Start Time

The main issue with the late start time was that the Chicago Street Course does not have lights. This means that one rain shower can put the end of the race in jeopardy since there is less daylight to race.

Jett MDK brought up this point and also discussed why he disliked stage cautions, which we will discuss later.

Elite Precision 29 blames solely the TV networks for pushing the start times so late.

Elite on our official Discord server believes the race should start about an hour or a half an hour earlier.

Jordan Ferrell played devil’s advocate with the start times to an extent, again blaming the TV networks and not blaming NASCAR.

Jessica believes an earlier start time would help keep NASCAR out of the way of bad weather.

Obviously, NASCAR cannot control the weather or when rain comes. The 2012 Daytona 500 and the 2024 Indy 500 were slated to start in the early afternoon, and those races were weather-impacted. Moving the start times earlier doesn’t magically fix bad weather.

However, when a track does not have lights, and NASCAR has to battle sunlight to get the full race in, late start times often hurt. The later the start time, the less time there is to complete the race, which means a rain delay could be even more impactful to a race’s potential finish.

Where do these late afternoon start times come from? They are largely based on TV networks, as the late afternoon window on Sunday is usually the highest-rated window of the day. Evidence of this is NFL TV ratings, as Paramount announced that, in 2023, the late afternoon NFL on CBS window was “the most-watched window in all of television,” not just sports.

The later the start times, the easier it is for audiences on the West Coast, in particular, to tune in. This allows fans to finish up church, brunch, or any normal Sunday tradition and watch NASCAR or whatever sport at a later time. NASCAR is being paid roughly $820 million by the TV networks to broadcast the races in 2024, with that fee rising to around $1.1 billion in 2025, so, yes, the TV networks have a very legitimate say in this argument.

Stage Cautions

Another issue fans had was the stage cautions, particularly with how they messed up the early and later parts of the race. An ill-timed caution in stage one forced NASCAR to end the stage under caution, and the caution was further elongated by completing the stage break. Fans were also unhappy to see a stage break in stage two, further slowing the race as NASCAR was racing the clock to get as many laps in before sunset

S1apSh0es believes that a race like the Chicago Street Race should eliminate stage breaks to eliminate unnecessary caution laps.

Lucas Zurita believes that NASCAR should get rid of stage cautions regardless.

CS actually likes stage cautions, and he feels they improve the racing.

Wings on our official Discord server believes NASCAR should eliminate stage cautions when racing sunset.

Ian points out that NASCAR spent 27 minutes under caution to end stage one.

NASCAR tried to take stage cautions away at road courses for 2023, but they abandoned that for the final road course race of the season, the Charlotte Roval. With that in mind, it’s unlikely that they revert to no stage cautions.

The stage one caution was a very unique situation. With the caution coming out so late, NASCAR decided to end the stage under yellow, and they had to go through the stage caution procedure after the initial caution.

Why would they do this? It’s possible that NBC had advertisers lined up specifically for the stage break, and they needed to make sure the caution ran its’ course to allow the advertisements to happen. As someone who has spent time working in broadcast production, I know that commercial placement is always very intentional, and getting all commercials in at their allotted spots is vital.

Dropping stage cautions when racing the clock might help get some extra laps in, but NASCAR would be changing the rules in the middle of the race. Would they really be willing to make such a drastic change? Then again, choosing to end the race early is a big change in and of itself.

What do you think about all this? Let us know on Discord or X what your take is, and don’t forget you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube.

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