Saturday, September 06, 2008

Postponing and then running a pair of races on the same day is not the easy way out

RICHMOND - It's just before noon on Saturday as I write this, and yes, it's pouring rain.

At least here, though, that's pretty much all Tropical Storm Hanna is - rain. But I do believe NASCAR made the right call Friday in pushing both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series races here back to Sunday.

It could stop raining sometime this afternoon, and if it does somebody will say NASCAR over-reacted in pulling the plug so early. But that will be 20-20 hindsight.

Even if there are no downed power lines or is no major flooding in the area, there might have been. At 5 p.m. Friday when this call was made, nobody could be sure how bad the storm was going to be here. This is one of those times where if you're going to miss, you have to miss on the side of being to cautious.

NASCAR doesn't want to run on Sunday this weekend, not with the NFL season kicking off. The Cup race was supposed to be on ABC network television Saturday night, but ABC has the IndyCar Series finale scheduled for Sunday afternoon and couldn't just swap it to cable without a whole lot of contractural hassle. So the Cup race will be on ESPN opposite the 1 p.m. NFL games on Fox and CBS. That's going to cause some issues with companies who bought ads at Saturday night, prime-time network rates.

So this was not a decision NASCAR jumped at. Even though it has run two series on the same day before, including at Auto Club Speedway in California earlier this year, that's not the easiest thing in the world to do. But in this case it's the right thing.

If the rain stopped by 2 or 3 o'clock today, the track certainly could be dry in time for an 8 p.m. Cup start. But Virginia state and Henrico county officials have been busy all night and all day making sure the people who live in this state and this county are getting what they need to deal with a potentially dangerous storm. Asking them to do that and to do what they need to do to make a NASCAR race come off at the track Saturday night was just too much.

The Truck Series race from St. Louis comes on this afternoon, so race fans can get their fix. We'll just sit here watching it rain and go to the track for a rare Richmond day race tomorrow.

Everybody might not be happy, but at least we're all above water. So far, at least.


Monkeesfan said...

This was a no-brainer.

NASCAR should be running its Winston Cup races on Sunday afternoons with 12-1 PM starting times anyway - no more of this 2:30 PM crap.

Unknown said...

just as monkeesfan says nascar should be sunday afternoons , and not taking away from the saturday night tracks !!

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely, positively the right call and anyone who claims otherwise is an insentive jerk.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that monkeesfan or john actually know what they're talking about.

2:30pm monkee? It was a scheduled Saturday night race.

And john ... Richmond's second race has been a Saturday night race for a long time. Don't like it? Record it and go out and watch the local tracks.

Meanwhile, for the real issue of this blog entry:

NASCAR made the right call. Had the storm changed up just slightly and caught all those people at the track, it would've been a terrible mess.

Anonymous said...

Well, I realize this is a little bit selfish on my part, but I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one in this boat... Though I'd love to get to see the race be run at night, I'm glad they're having to move it from ABC to ESPN. Where I live, we don't have HD local channels. I'm excited to get to see one last race this season in HD.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with monkeesfan. I think NASCAR gained a lot of popularity when the races used to start on Sundays around 12:30. They were over by 4 and people could get on with their lives.

And obviously we all know this was supposed to be a night race, he was simply talking about the ridiculously late starts we have to endure now adays.

Anonymous said...

i disagree. why not make a decision on saturday. hanna, as you said, was only rain. why decide friday? i flew across the country and spent $1000 to do so. got no race. but before i got on the plane, i got twice daily updates from saying it was all going to happen as planned. not even a "but, hey, we may decide on friday to push it back till sunday". nope. the race is on as scheduled. and could've been. so now, i'm at RIC and get to fly home to miss the race due to no DVR set for ESPN. guess i'll just watch some the rest of the country.

Anonymous said...

I had hoped they would run the Sprint race on Sunday evening since it was supposed to be a night race anyway. I have to work until 5pm Sunday .....oh well, one less viewer NASCAR

Paul Stagg said...

I gotta agree with David. NASCAR really did make the right call.

It has less to do with the race itself, and more to do with the public servants (police, fire, etc) who are involved in any big event. Those people were otherwise occupied on Saturday, and even though there wasn't really any disaster; removing the need to plan for the race allowed them to adequately plan and staff for the possibility of a disaster.

I normally don't feel bad for NASCAR, but in this case, they are certainly paying a price for making the right call - ratings against the first week of the NFL season are going to be horrid. The track won't be full, which means less stuff sold out of those souvenier trailers, less fried baloney sandwiches, and less Coors Light.

There's a big cost associated with this call, but it was the right one to make.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR was only half right on this one. Look back, EVERY weather forcaster was projecting Hanna to put rain on the Richmond area starting Fri afternoon and lasting until sometime lat Sat. These projections were all early in the week.

NASCAR had the opportunity to modify the Fri schedule by starting practice earlier for both series, cutting it off at one hour each and then going to qualification. After at least giving the fans that made the long trips in something to watch, races moved to Sunday when everything clears would have been the right call.

TexasRaceLady said...

No matter what call NASCAR made concerning the races, they were screwed.

Personally, I applaud them for making the tough call --- postpone and run both races today.

Fortunately, Hanna dumped nothing but rain on Virginia --- it could have been a disaster.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR made the right move, simply for the emergency responders... next time you attend a race, look around at all of the fire trucks, police officers, and EMTs/Paramedics. Most likely, 100% of them were on duty Saturday because of the storm; even here in New England we (I am a paramedic) were bracing for the worst. Even heavy rains, like Virginia received, can make for a very busy day. Its very likely that if NASCAR had not postponed then they may have been forced into it as police/fire/EMS details were cancelled.

For the person who traveled in and missed the race... hey, sorry, I feel bad... BUT... NASCAR is an outdoor sport. If you have that much invested in it, stay an extra day for just such a possibility.

Anonymous said...

Who cares! Football is back on!

Anonymous said...

NASCAR was forced to make a tough call, and got it 110% correct - end of story.

Now, on a completely unrelated matter, I was supposed to fly from Chicago to Wilmington, NC on Saturday, via Charlotte. My flight from Charlotte to Wilmington was cancelled LAST WEDNESDAY..."due to the pending storm." So I rent a car in Charlotte and make the 4-hour drive to Wilmington.

Problem was - most, if not all, of North Carolina was blue-skied and puffy white clouds ALL DAY on Saturday. Hanna was nothing more than a rain event. There was no reason the airline couldn't have operated their CLT to ILM flights on Saturday. In case anyone is wondering, said airline's name rhymes with "U.S. Airways."

And we wonder why the airline industry is screwed up?

Anonymous said...

DAVID- GREAT article on FORCE FOR SAFETY. I often disagree with your opinions, but you are one fine writer. Thank you.

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