Race Weekend Central

4 Burning Questions: Night Racing, Hall of Fame & Rockingham

Should the season showcase more night races?

At first glance, this one seems like a no-brainer. Let’s take a look at the pros of a Saturday night event. As we’ve already seen several times this season, Mother Nature can cause some lengthy delays in this sport and move the race into a day and time where a majority of NASCAR’s fanbase isn’t able to watch.

In the case of a Saturday night event, if rain is an issue during the scheduled time of the race, the event can easily be moved to Sunday, when many fans are still off work. When rain isn’t a factor, having a Sunday off gives travelers time to get back home without missing work, thus putting more butts in the seats.

Finally, Saturday night doesn’t create a lot of conflict against other sporting events, as opposed to the Chase races which are normally running up against NFL games. It doesn’t matter how much promoting NASCAR does, those events are always going to trump the races.

Additionally, it’s just plain fun. You can see the sparks flying under a night sky, the cars literally shine under the bright lights around the track, and for whatever reason, the evening races tend to bring out the best (or, in some cases, worst) in even the most even-tempered drivers.

The one downside? Short-track racing. A majority of local short tracks — whether dirt or asphalt — typically run their main events on Saturday nights and running up against a Cup Series race would undoubtedly hurt their attendance. With historic racetracks like North Wilkesboro either closing or struggling to survive, the last thing short tracks need is for the very sport their regular drivers are aiming for to affect the money they bring in.

To say the least, it’s a balancing act and something I’m sure NASCAR is actively looking in to.

Does the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee need to improve its selections?

On Wednesday (April 10), the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced its 25 nominees for the 2013 class, with five new additions: Anne Bledsoe France, Ray Fox, Wendell Scott, Ralph Seagraves and Rusty Wallace. I was pleasantly surprised when the announcements sparked some debate among the NASCAR world, as I half expected the announcement would be of little interest to most.

Nonetheless, everyone had an opinion on the five new nominees and who was left out of the nominations. Among some of the controversy was the fact that some felt Wallace was nominated too early and in place of more deserving members like Bruton Smith. Additionally, some wondered if Anne Bledsoe France deserved to be inducted into the Hall this soon, let alone at all.

I’m sure everyone reading this has their own opinions, but personally I don’t understand this debate over who gets in “before” anyone else. These five were nominated, not inducted, and will likely have to wait for their time anyway. The fact that there are only five inductees every year doesn’t leave NASCAR much room to work with, and they are trying to make up for 60-plus years of history. That’s going to take a while.

I don’t agree, though, with inducting more than five in every year. If you induct any more than that, it’s going to lose the significance. It’s not difficult to remember five individuals, but remembering eight? Or 10? Or more? Get them all to stand up on stage in a group and it’s no longer a group – it’s a crowd.

Five is a good number for NASCAR to get as many individuals in as possible without overwhelming or downplaying the event. So don’t get frustrated when someone gets left out of the nomination, because eventually the sport will catch up with itself.

Can Rockingham maintain its race date?

Second chances don’t come very often in life, but when they do you need to be ready to chase the opportunity. Rockingham is getting a second chance on the NASCAR schedule and in the hearts of NASCAR fans everywhere — not just for longtime fans who saw the track in its heyday, but for newer fans who were never able to witness (or witnessed very little of) the events run at the track.

See also
Keeping Perspective on the Return to Rockingham

While the quality of racing will be a storyline to watch when the race goes green on Sunday afternoon, there is another huge contributing factor that will determine how long Rockingham remains on the schedule: attendance.

See, the track hasn’t had a NASCAR race in years, so there isn’t any excuse to not go because “the racing sucks.” We don’t know that yet, and longtime fans, who are typically the biggest critics of the quality of the race, have been crying for historical tracks such as this to be returned to NASCAR in some form for years now. This isn’t the time to sit back and “see how it plays out.”

If you want to see Rockingham retain a date, the time to act is now. Call up the track, buy a ticket and sit your butt down in the seat and enjoy the race. If you can’t go, turn on your TVs and watch it from start to finish.

Seriously, NASCAR and Rockingham did what the fans have been asking for. Now is the time to show your appreciation. If this is really what you want, you need to either show it with your wallets or with your remote.

Second chances may be rare, but third chances are almost non-existent.

Is Trevor Bayne better off staying in the Sprint Cup Series?

I can’t figure this one out. Trevor Bayne is marketable, he’s got a significant fanbase behind him and a ton of talent. Those are supposedly all of the things sponsors look for in a driver, and yet he can’t even maintain a majority of his time in one series.

Danica Patrick only has two of those qualities (OK, two and a half) and she has enough sponsorship to run a full Nationwide Series schedule and a good handful of Cup races. Bayne isn’t even entered in the Nationwide Series race this weekend due to a lack of funding, but is running the Sprint Cup race.

As much as I hate to say it, screw driver development. Just get this guy on a track where he can get enough funding to showcase his talents and personality.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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