Monday, February 16, 2009

It can't be the Daytona 380

Charlotte Observer sportswriter Ron Green Jr. offers these thoughts on Sunday's Daytona 380, er, 500:

If the Daytona 500 is truly the biggest event in NASCAR racing, it can’t end prematurely because it’s raining.

They wouldn’t call the Super Bowl after three quarters because of lightning. They’d wait around until they could finish it.

The U.S. Open isn’t over until 72 holes (and sometimes 18 more) are complete, regardless of the weather and the inconvenience.

It rains all the time at Wimbledon but they wouldn’t call the championship match with someone leading two sets to one. Postpone it, sure. But end it? Nope.

I know the way the Daytona 500 ended Sunday night followed NASCAR’s rules, such as they are. But it’s not the Daytona 380, it’s the Daytona 500 and it’s a race on which legacies are supposedly made.

Who’s making the decisions, Bud Selig?

If it’s as big as everyone says it is – and I’m a fan of the Daytona 500 – it needs to be run to its proper conclusion.

Sure, it would be a royal pain to bring everyone back on Monday to run 48 laps. But it would be worth getting it right.

This isn’t meant to take anything away from Matt Kenseth, but the guy led one green-flag lap and happened to be in front when rain clouds arrived. Had they run the last 48 laps, imagine what might have happened with Dale Jr. out there.

It’s one thing to cut short a race at Richmond or Pocono.

But not the biggest race of the year. There’s a reason it’s called the Daytona 500.


Anonymous said...

The problem wasn't when the race was called, it was when it was started. Who needs nearly 2 hours pre-race nonsense? By starting at 3:40, you narrow the window considerably, esepcially knowing well ahead of time that rain was inevitable. We'll revisit this again I'm sure in June or July when a race at Pocono or Michigan or NH is rain-shortened or called by darkness because of these later start times. Every year, this happens once or twice. At least next week, we're lucky. The prerace show for Fontana is only 1hr 15 min for a race where there may be more people watching in my living room than at ACS.

Unknown said...

I agree with Anonymous. Why is the race not started before 3:40 pm? During the Speed pre-show and the Fox pre-show the sky was cloudy but not raining. All the reporters kept mentioning was they hoped the whole race could get in and it didn't. NASCAR needs to stop worrying about the West Coast fans and start the races between 12:30 and 1:30. People on the west coast that care about NASCAR will make it for the starting time.

Anonymous said...

Besides that, the starting time of most races is a mystery. Sometimes, it may be 30 min after Fox/TNT/ABC/ESPN go on the air and other times, 90 or more minutes. Don't expect this to get better any time soon. David Hill, Fox Sports president (I think), has been quoted as saying some of the races don't start late enough. Couple that with the debacles at both Phoenix races last year-Fox missing the green flag due to baseball running late and then ABC dumping out for America's Funniest Home Videos. Just look at a crowd at Fontana and see how NASCAR fever is gripping the West Coast.

Anonymous said...

Imagine what might have happened with Dale Jr. out there????
You gotta be kidding.
What might have happened if he hadn't wrecked Vickers???
And what might have happened if NASCAR had penalized him???
And what might have happened if you had called him what he is (a below average racer)instead of putting him od a pedestal all the time.
And what might have happened if Mike Helton didn't give his Daddy 7 Championships???
And what might have happened if Tim Richmond were still racing?
And what might have happened if Tom Higgins hadn't retired?

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest factor in this last night was the FOX TV schedule. There were some new episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" that were coming on. Trying to dry out the track and complete the race would have pushed it way into those time slots.

The Daytona race in July has been rain-delayed and then they got it going again, sometimes finishing as late as 2 AM. I know... I've been there when it happened! But seeing as the July race was scheduled through prime-time anyway, it didn't matter, they just waited until things dried up and got going again.

I'm not a fan of seeing races getting called due to weather as it leaves everyone to wonder how things would have really turned out. They could have postponed the last 46 laps of the race until today, they've done that before as well. This is where NASCAR needs to wake up and smell the Sunoco and go back to their broadcasts on ESPN or a dedicated sports channel.

I'm really happy for Matt and glad he's got that trophy to show for his efforts. However, it'd be great if the series wasn't affected so much by commercial ratings and TV schedules and they could just go race!

stricklinfan82 said...

If such a rule existed that the Daytona 500 had to be run to its conclusion I have no doubt in my mind that NASCAR would have never thrown in the towel before 7:00 after just 20 or so minutes under the red flag like they did yesterday.

It sure would have been nice to see NASCAR take the same initiative yesterday at Daytona that they did last last February at California. Remember that day? They started the race and then it rained. NASCAR waited hours upon hours to try to get the track dried. They had every intention of trying to restart the race after 2 AM Eastern (11 PM local).

What was the difference between that day and yesterday at Daytona? Last year's California race hadn't reached the halfway point, so NASCAR bent over backwards to do everything in their power to get the race finished that day, because they didn't want to come back the next day. If their plan worked out the race wouldn't have gotten to halfway until around 3 AM, and wouldn't have run 500 miles until around 4:30-5:00 AM (1:30-2 AM local time). Ultimately they just couldn't get the track dry and at about 1:45 AM they threw in the towel. But at least they tried. Yesterday with the "halfway is an official race" escape clause, there was no effort made at all to stick things out. That's what bothers me. The days of doing NASCAR doing everything in their power to run the races to their completion have passed us by.

These days the true NASCAR fans are screwed by NASCAR catering to the TV networks and the "casual fans". New Hampshire doesn't have lights, yet last year's race there had a mid-afternoon start time. A little bit of rain came, and NASCAR had no choice but to throw in the towel within minutes, because there was no daylight left to get the track dried. Yesterday at Daytona the track sat dormant until after 3:30 PM. Knowing now that NASCAR had no intentions of having cars on the track after 10PM, it sure would have been nice to use the hours between 1 and 3:30 to run the laps we were robbed of yesterday.

I would take your proposal to the next step Mr. Poole - ALL points races should be run to their conclusion. Then, mostly in the interest of the cost of everyone (including TV) having to be at the track an extra day, NASCAR would have to be consistent and always make the necessary efforts to stick out these rain delays, and they would almost certainly do us all a favor and get these races back to starting earlier in the day to maximize the available window to get them run in their entirety. I have a strong suspicion that we would never see another 500-mile race at Pocono starting after 2:15 PM if NASCAR knew they had to run the race to its completion no matter what.

Asyouwuz said...

David Poole is wrong on this one and he knows why.

Anonymous said...

SPEED was on the air with their pre-race show at 11AM EST yesterday, 4 1/2 hours before the race. The first thing they mentioned was the threat of rain. NASCAR had plenty of time to move up the start of the race a little bit and try to get more of it in.

I realize you can't move a race up by an hour or more, but 30-45 minutes has been done in the past in would have been OK.

Mike Bagley said on TMD this morning that you can't start early because tickets have been printed with a specific starting time and that same starting time has been advertised.

BS. Yes you can move up start times. Happens at least 2-3 times each season. Watch - it will happen this year too at some point.

I'd feel better about a Daytona 425 or 450 than I do 380.

Anonymous said...

nascar is turning into a freaking joke. this is just the latest debacle. start the dammned races earlier to insure you get them in, or like the article said, finish it later. but finish the darn thing.

Anonymous said...

I had very low expectations due to the testing ban. I expected a wreck fest. It wasnt that, but was dull 'cause everyone's setup made them save the tires. The rain out made that a "for what?".
On the positive side, it gave low budget etc. teams like Mayfield an equal chance. Anybody hear what happened to Mayfield. He was up to 11th--under the hood-- and then nothing...

Anonymous said...

With later starts, NASCAR's also screwing the fans that go out to watch these races. It can take an hour and a half to two hours to get out of some of these lots, most of which aren't very well lit.

If the thing ends at 4:30, you can hang out for awhile and still leave before it's too dark, especially in the summer. But if you're leaving at 8 AND it's dark and raining, well, you're not going to be in that much of a hurry to mail in your renewal.

There's nothing wrong with finishing the Daytona 500 when th ere's light out. It's more important that the Daytona 500 have an actual finish.

Anonymous said...

i agree with david on this one....if they can have twin 150's to set the the field they can end it will 500 miles. Hey, Poole if you can fix this, please get rid of the dancing cartoon groundhog and Darrel "botox" Waltrips sayings at the start of the race.

Anonymous said...

In the bigger picture, this trend seems to say to tracks that you better consider having lights if you want to keep your race(s), even on Sundays: Dover, Pocono, NH, Martinsville, Michigan, to name a few. If Fox had their way, every race would end in prime time.
Who also can forget the Chase race in Kansas in 2007 that wasn't pushed up, then it rained and then amazingly it got dark a little past 7 Central time in late September. The race where Biffle won even though was passed after running out of gas on the track.

Anonymous said...

the later start time for the 500 isn't for prerace stuff, the last 2 years they pushed it back so the race could end under the lights. that's great, but when you know rain is coming and your broadcast starts at 2 and green is scheduled for 340 i think it would of been ok to go green early, if you're tivoing it it's already recording since broadcast started at 2.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right, this is not any other race. If it is "just another race", then throw out the qualifying races on Thursday.

I also think the main reason this race was never rained out before 2003 was because it started at 12:15pm. Now, we've had two rain shortened events in 6 years, in the 40+ years prior it happened what, once? I think one of Petty's wins in the 70s was shortened by 2 freakin laps.

Holy crap is NASCAR stupid. Thanks for putting this out there, not that those clowns are going to change anything.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame the rain, blame the late starts.... I agree with the majority here that we need earlier starts. It is getting so ridiculously late for non-night races that fans at the race can't even get flights out until Monday. To top it off, they have to pay for additional accommodation and miss an extra day of work. Earlier starts give more room to work with weather delays and set start times between 12-1 eastern would let fans plan around the race instead of guessing the varying start times each week. As a fan watching tv, I end up having to miss part of the race to go run errands instead of earlier races giving me time later in the afternoon to do things before settling in Sunday evening for a long week at work.

Anonymous said...

The saddest part about all of this is noboby mentioned the winner all day long. All we talk about is the contraversay surrounding NASCAR again.

Anonymous said...

You think that might be because the media, especially the newspaper people, believe slamming NASCAR sells & will find something to criticize NASCAR about regardless? I just heard that it was still raining in Daytona at 11:30 Sunday. If NASCAR had waited until 11:00 or 12:00 to call the race, then the article would have been "They had radar, why didn't NASCAR call the race at 7:00?"

majorshouse said...

I still think that they knew that rain was imminent and they should have started the race at 1:00, and don't give me this crap about viewers, I have a feeling that viewership will go up given an earlier start time and am sick of everything having to end under the lights.