How NASCAR Can Avoid Rain Shortened Races

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How NASCAR Can Avoid Rain Shortened Races
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

No one likes rain. It's cold, wet, and makes the day (and one's hair) look like hell.

When it comes to sporting events, rain is the baseball player breaking his favorite bat. It's the unsuccessful Hail Mary in the Super Bowl. It's the goal in hockey with just a few ticks left on the clock in the third period. 

Martin Brodeur, goaltender for the New Jersey Devils, knows all about that—and not in a good way.

Rain is NASCAR's greatest enemy. Rain is the silence at a racetrack that should have 43 screaming race cars competing. 

Rain just ruins everything.

Last weekend in New Hampshire, Joey Logano went from spinning, to losing a lap, to winning. How? Because it rained.

For Logano, a win is a win and the debate about whether or not he or any other rain winner deserves it is over. Instead, it's time to focus on the fact that the race didn't need to end like that.

No race does.

Thus far in 2009 two of NASCAR's biggest races were ruined by rain. The Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola were both cut short due to the weather.

Unlike other sporting events, there are no roofs over NASCAR tracks—That's something never likely to happen.

Last year, however, the NASCAR Nationwide Series did race in Montreal with rain tires. That was a road course, though—where the cars are not traveling nearly as fast as they would be at Daytona or Atlanta. 

For anyone to want rain tires at tracks such as those would be suicidal—Except I say, let's cut them loose on road courses and see who can get it done.

But there is something that NASCAR officials can and should look into to help avoid more rain ruined races. 

The NASCAR schedule shows the start times for each weekend's race. Looking at the schedule for the second half of this season, one giant question hangs in the air.

Look at the start time for Daytona and Chicagoland, both night races—They are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Excellent, both are consistent times and both are perfect times for night racing. 

The next four races that follow: Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, and Michigan are all scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time start.

Once again, NASCAR did a great job of keeping things consistent. But don't expect that for long and see if you can find where the giant question comes in.

The following three races—Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond—which lead to the Chase for the Championship, are night races.

But instead of being scheduled for 7:30 like Daytona and Chicagoland, Bristol is marked for 6:30 and the other two are marked for 7 p.m. Charlotte in October also has a 7:00 start time.

Why the difference?

Looking at the rest of the schedule, it's more of the same with scattered start times.

Loudon, Dover and Kansas, as well as Martinsville a few weeks into the Chase, actually follow the previous day races with a 1:00 start. Obviously, one is a popular choice and seems to work out.

Let's all vote for every day race to have a staring time of 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time... ok, glad that's settled.

Then Fontana, California is next up and West Coast races, day and night, are going to be difficult to please everyone with a time.

One thing that is certain is that there should in no way be a repeat of what happened at California in February of 2008.

NASCAR cannot wait until 3 a.m. Eastern Time to cancel a race. Even though it may be early on the West Coast, making the other half of the country stay up and wait that long on a Sunday night is frustrating.

If it was a Saturday night with no school or work the next day, then maybe people would be a little more understanding. Handle West Coast races with care. 

And while we are on the topic of canceling races, NASCAR: Please don't cancel a race or call the race short and then have it stop raining 30 minutes later! 

Race fans are not stupid. They will check the weather and the radar and complain for the days to come if you do that.

But, back to the final four races on the schedule, which have me puzzled.

One would think that Talladega, a day race, would have a one o'clock start time. But that's a fool who thinks that.

Talladega is marked down for noon—and who knows why it is that early and doesn't follow the previous races?

To close the season out Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami are all scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Huh?

Texas is supposed to end under the lights. Being central time, it wouldn't be that hard for NASCAR to completely make it a night race—not the "start in the day and then end under the lights" format.

The only races that work going from day to night are the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. All other races should either be day or night.

Pick one—no in-between.

That rule should apply for the championship race in Homestead. Crown the champion under the lights and fireworks in Miami. Do not start in the day and drag it on all night. The race seems as long as the season. 

And then there's Phoenix, the second to last race of the year, which is also a day race. So start it at 1:00 p.m., noon Arizona time and let's settle that.

Hey NASCAR—I've practically done your job for you. Just do everything I've mentioned above and we'll be set.

There is no need for these 2:30, starts because all that does is give the husbands and wives of NASCAR fans more time after church gets out to go shopping or do whatever.

Sorry to break it to you ladies and gentlemen, but your significant other wants to see race cars on Sunday afternoon—not your parents or china patterns.

Both Kurt and Kyle Busch have said they would like to see a consistent and scheduled start times for all races to help beat the rain and make things organized.

Kyle even suggested this week that all day races be either at one or two o'clock in the afternoon and that night races be at seven.

How easy would that be if everyone knew what time each race was going to start?

If rain is in the forecast and there is a specific time for the race to start, then start the race. Forget about a Digger episode—which I'm pretty sure I have memorized by now—or a TNT hour pre-race show followed by a half hour TNT countdown to green.

Is that really necessary? We don't care about highlights that happened last week. We saw them already and are ready for the race we tuned into to watch—the race that might come on after all the pre-race hoopla. 

Dump all of that. 

Fans want cars on the track and drivers want to race. Scheduled start times and eliminating the bogus pre-race shows will help stop races from being ruined by the rain.

So, message to NASCAR:

Fans want race cars and complete races, not a Gopher. And race car drivers want to compete and have a fair shot at winning—not have it stolen away not a non racing move (a.k.a the pit road rain dance).

Rain is bad, NASCAR. In a sport where everyone loves speed, we are leaving it to you to make sure we get that.

As Ken Squire once said, "There is nothing more unnatural for a race car driver than to sit still when he knows he could be racing."

Disclaimer: This article is in no way a nasty rant toward NASCAR. The writer loves the sport and would just like to see a complete race. 

 

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