|Lady in black gets a new date for 2014|
There had been all sorts of rumors and wishful thinking about next year’s schedule after its release was delayed well past the normal timing. There was talk of adding a third road race to the schedule and adding a road race to the Chase. Maybe shake the Chase races up for a little more variety. Change the finale from Homestead to Phoenix. Some even thought NASCAR was considering moving the Darlington race back to its traditional Labor Day weekend spot of bygone years.
The delay was the result of NASCAR and its past and future television partners trying to work out a deal where Fox and NBC would take over the broadcasts next year, rather than in 2015 as the new contracts stipulate. That worked out about as well as the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. When the talks failed, so did any hope of making meaningful schedule changes.
As a result (drum roll here) the big change is that Darlington and Kansas will pretty much swap weekends. Darlington will move its race to early April while Kansas will take over the Saturday night before Mother’s Day on the schedule. Both tracks are owned by International Speedway Corporation (which is controlled by NASCAR), so it was an in-house decision.
Yup, that’s right. NASCAR’s original superspeedway, a favorite of fans and drivers, had to give up its date yet again, this time for the Kansas track drivers just two weeks ago called treacherous. Once again the series turned its back on tradition and its core fans for a few more butts in Kansas seats.
For many years NASCAR didn’t race on Mother’s Day. But with the series looking to expand to new markets, Darlington lost its Labor Day weekend race to California. It eventually lost its second race altogether and was offered a spring race on Mother’s Day weekend. Take it or leave it.
The track took on the challenge and focused on making it a mother friendly event. Many of the NASCAR moms and wives made the relatively easy trip from Charlotte to Darlington for the race. The strategy worked, with four straight sell-outs. Now all that hard work is out the window.
April. In Darlington. At night. Burrrr. Good luck.
Kansas can’t be expected to entice many of racing’s moms and wives out from Charlotte who don’t already make the trek. Not that it really matters. The success Kansas has enjoyed the past couple of years has everything to do with the building behind Turn Two. The Casino.
As for future schedule changes, wait 'til next year.
“As you look ahead to 2015, there will be some more opportunities on the horizon,” said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations.
“I know fans have talked about a road course in the Chase. We'd never rule that out. Under our current schedule, that's very challenging for us to do. If you asked both of those road courses, I think they have a pretty successful thing going on right now. We're very happy with where those dates fall as well. It's certainly something we look at, but it's not as easy as just flipping the switch and moving one. There's a lot of things that come into play with weather, TV calendars, travel. So it's something that we're taking a bigger look at every year. I think that we're more open than we've ever been to looking at those things.”
The big news from NASCAR’s POV is that the hyped Air Titan track drying machine will be at every race next year. And why is that news? Because the Titan wasn’t available at several tracks this year.
Great/ With any luck, maybe it will rain in Kansas on Mother’s Day.