Things I Think I Know - Thursday Night NASCAR?


After a weekend-long monsoon in the Greater Fort Worth area, I found myself watching NASCAR on a Monday for the third time in 2010. Even better, I skipped school, missed a newspaper meeting and forgot to wrestle down my cat to do so. (Slippery little rascal, XD)

As much as I enjoyed my guilty little pleasure on Monday, I wish NASCAR could find more ways to make several races feel as unique over a 36-race circuit.

Much in the same vein as Monday Night Football, NASCAR needs a semi-annual event to stand out more than the others. My solution is simple: a prime-time weekday afternoon NASCAR extravaganza.

Get the details after the fold:

NASCAR is as big of a TV event as it comes, second only to the NFL in the all-important Nielsen ratings.

NASCAR's problem is two-fold: First, the races are just too darn long, clocking in at just over three hours per telecast. And second, each race outside of restrictor plate racing and the All Star Event just feels repetitive.

Once upon a time, the July Daytona race was ran on July 4th no matter what day it fell on. For a sport that banks so much on history, the guys in Concord appeared to have missed one.

July 4th falls on a Friday in 2010, not far from the event's typical Saturday time slot. (Okay, it really doesn't but lets assume for a moment that it did. Who's the silly boob now, huh?)  Why not test the waters on a Friday night and test if the concept is a welcome one. I'm betting that it would be.

The Gatorade Duels at Daytona are traditionally held on the Thursday afternoon just before the Daytona 500. Outside of the elderly and lawyers, who's watching this race? Good job on the product marketing Mr. France.

Rather than keeping the status quo here, move the race to Thursday evening around six o'clock eastern time. This gives the sanctioning body a much better chance at catching eyeballs than its current noon starting slot.

With a prime time start, everyone gets a chance to see the race. Isn't that what NASCAR and SPEED Network both want anyway?

The concept is one that the NFL clearly gets with Monday Night Football. "Is it Monday Yet" is one of the most recognizable slogans in sports. It's also something each of us feel every Monday morning.

Regardless of team fandom, everyone watches Monday Night Football. It's a slice of Americana.

Capitalize on it.

Take a struggling NASCAR market like Sonoma or Martinsville and dress it up as NASCAR's must-see weekday event. Shorten the race from 400 to 300 miles and from three hours to two and voila - NASCAR's unique marquee event.

Obviously there are several factors that are getting ignored. Everything from rainouts, out-of-state travel and television contracts are variables against the plan but that's easily negated if everyone considers the possible net gain.

With struggling ratings and a lethargic fan base, now is the moment to strike. Do something different NASCAR and with it, something special.

Thursday Night NASCAR has one hell of ring to it, does it not?

"Be seeing you."


Matt Weaver

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