Monday, February 27, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Monday Night NASCAR???

For the first time since the event's inception in 1959, yesterday's Daytona 500 was postponed due to rain. The original plan was to race this afternoon, but the best laid plans can wind up sopping wet. Given tight deadlines and timing with the series' next event in Phoenix, Arizona and the necessity for teams to travel back to Charlotte, load up, and head west -- delaying for another day would put teams against the wall needing to be ready to run on Friday. The Daytona 500 will run tonight at 7:00 pm. This is the first time NASCAR's top series has run in prime time on a weekday night carried by a major network.

Could this be the shape of things to come?

Some of mankind's greatest discoveries have come by accident, but clearly NASCAR needs a shot in the arm far greater than Danica-mania can provide. Monday Night Football was once a huge success which helped to propel the NFL to its current level of unrivaled popularity. The BCS National Championship, the World Series, the NCAA basketball finals all play on prime time TV. Would this work for NASCAR? What are the benefits? What might be drawbacks?

Would the TV networks, Fox in particular embrace the idea?  The Daytona 500 takes place in February during "sweeps" month. Would that be a plus or a minus. We'll call it a plus if it means one less night of American Idol! If the race started at 8:00 pm, how ridiculously late would the race be over?

For the sport's biggest event to be a prime time spectacular has the potential to be a huge success for fans at home and would generate a lot more buzz during the course of the week just the way a Sunday Night or Monday Night football game does.

The move might not be good for the gate receipts at the track.Much of the audience is there attending a destination event. NASCAR fans travel from all round the nation to attend. For many spectators, a Monday night event would mean a minimum of two days' vacation time where given the proximately of the airport, fans can make a Sunday afternoon race, a weekend's event.

Tonight's race which still has the possibility of some rain delays could help tell this story. Monday Night NASCAR? Could be? Should be? or Shouldn't be?

Fans await a good race tonight, and let's see what the followup coverage and numbers show.

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