|Johnson's dominating Dover win part of summer doldrums|
I’m sorry, but watching the Dover 4000 was painful. Okay, it was only 400 miles, but it seemed like 4,000. Two red flag periods didn’t help. Not even a couple of naps helped pass the time - or laps. Every time I woke up, Jimmie Johnson was leading. Come to think of it, the same thing happened during the Charlotte race. But at Dover, after Kyle Busch crashed out, the race ceased to be a race. And from a look at the number of fans in the stands, plenty of people who have been to Dover in the past stayed home this time around, despite near perfect weather.
It’s barely June and we’re little more than a third of way through the season, but NASCAR is in the midst of its summer doldrums. I’ve resisted the thoughts in the past, but I’m starting to come around to the idea that the NASCAR season is too long and so are some of the races. Certainly the string of 600 miles at Charlotte, followed by 400 mile races at Dover and now Pocono, is one of the more challenging stretches of the season. Even Michigan, which follows Pocono and has been better in recent years with increased speeds, has produced some pretty lousy televised races in the past.
There’s talk again of the NASCAR schedule undergoing a major overhaul next season when the new television contracts come into play. Let’s hope so. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. At least an opportunity that won’t come around again for another 10 years. And if nothing is done now, the opportunity may never come around again. Rumors include at least one more road race, perhaps midweek night races in the summer, a new track or two and a wholesales restricting of the schedule.
We’ve heard those rumors before. Let’s hope something actually happens this time.
NASCAR also is facing a value problem. Some say it costs too much for fans to attend races. I say it’s more a question of value than cost. How do you provide more value? Provide more and better racing. Not more miles, more racings. In this regards NASCAR may want to consider something IndyCar started last year.
At about the same time the Dover race was drawing to a close on Sunday, the IndyCar teams were starting the second of two races held over the weekend in Detroit. Have to admit; at first I was skeptical about the “Duals” format. But also have to admit the two sprint races, one on Saturday and another on Sunday, with support races both days, provided a whole lot more value than one long race on Sunday. The teams hate the dual format – especially the week after Indianapolis – because it doubles the workload, but the fans seem to be warming to it.
All three NASCAR series ran at Dover. The trucks ran Friday afternoon with no one in the stands and only a few more watching on TV. Why? Run a 100-mile truck race and a 200-mile Sprint Cup sprint race on Saturday and a Nationwide 100-miler and another Sprint Cup sprint on Sunday. Might even cut down on the number of Cup drivers who race in the Nationwide series. And get rid of one of the Dover races altogether. Pocono too.