NASCAR: Who Gains and Who Loses When NASCAR Changes Its Sprint Cup Schedule?

Dustin ParksAnalyst IDecember 3, 2009

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 11:  Cars crash going into turn one in the final laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway on October 11, 2009 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

What makes a good NASCAR race? Is it the television ratings? Is it the amount of tickets sold?

Those are factors, but what makes a good race overall is the actual action on the track. It's the side-by-side driving, the close calls, and photo finishes that make for a good race.

In the Sprint Cup Series, a majority of the tracks have provided us with those moments. But, there are some tracks that some fans consider to be "boring" or "lackluster."

Many of these same fans have been asking for NASCAR to consider making changes to the schedule. Adding a new track or taking away one race from another are some options.

But, what should be looked at before making such changes?

One of the biggest factors to be looked at is the attendance. Tracks such as Richmond and Bristol pack their stands every race and are some of the hottest tickets to get.

Places such as Atlanta, Texas, and Darlington are among the most popular races to attend every year.

However, some tracks on the schedule show obvious signs that their attendance is not what it has been.

The most obvious of these tracks is the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. As many fans who watch on television can see, there are many empty seats for each of their events.

This has been a common occurrence since the track has gotten two races when the schedule realigned in 2004.

At a track that has a seating capacity of 92,000, the speedway has averaged only about 80,000 fans. Some races the track is closer to the 70,000 mark.

Both races are still on the schedule for 2010, but should NASCAR consider removing one of those races and giving it to another track?

All signs point to yes, but the question then becomes "What track do you replace it with?"

There has been some consideration to give another race to Kansas, but this may not be a good idea. The track is 1.5 miles in length, just like a strong majority of the tracks already on the schedule.

Having another race on a so called "cookie-cutter" track could hurt more than it would help. There are already nine races on the 1.5-mile tracks, or 25 percent of the schedule.

Putting another one on the track would not look good to the fans, nor would the drivers like the idea.

One idea could be to add another short track onto the schedule. Between Martinsville, Bristol, and Richmond, there are only six short-track events for the Sprint Cup Series.

These events are often the most exciting and produce some of the hottest moments of the season. Adding one more such race could provide a great boost to the sport.

The competition to get a Cup date would be a good one. Given the races put on by the Nationwide Series, Iowa would be a good choice.

The competition on the track, combined with a near sell-out crowd, really boosted the reputation of the new speedway. A Cup race at the track could be just as exciting.

One other idea that could be debated is giving a second date to a track such as Darlington. Following the 2004 season, Darlington lost its second date due to the realignment. The only event they had was held on Mother's Day weekend.

However, the following four races at the track were complete sellouts, with this year's just short of capacity. The drivers have praised the track for being one of the premier events of the year, and have a great respect for its history.

Giving this track a second race will go directly along with the notion of NASCAR's "back to basics" idea that was started this year. The action is always intense at the "Lady in Black," and the fans are some of the best in the country.

The debate can go on and on, but the fans can all agree that the schedule should have some tweaks and changes. Nothing much changed for 2010, but the questions of what can be done for 2011 have already begun.

Change is needed, and more often than not, change is good.