NASCAR Fontana 2014: Should NASCAR shorten race distances?

Are NASCAR races too long? Some drivers say yes, while others argue no.

Is less actually more? Would NASCAR be best served by shortening some of its races?

That was the debate Friday at Auto Club Speedway, which four years ago trimmed 100 miles off its annual spring event and has since produced some of the most memorable races in the track's 17-year history.

"Hell no. Longer is better. My opinion is that [racing] is supposed to be a test of man and machine.-Carl Edwards

"Shortening the length of our races would be great for our sport and great for the fans," Ryan Newman said. "It would build the excitement sooner. And I don't think it would necessarily change the outcome, I think it would just intensify our sport."

NASCAR's premiere division, the Sprint Cup Series, has one of the longest schedules in all of sports. The season begins in mid-February with preliminary events leading to the Daytona 500 and doesn't conclude until mid-November.

All together there are 38 races, including two exhibition events, over 40 weekends, and 13 tracks have multiple dates.

"Everything is long, our season is long," Hamlin said. "It's a very tough schedule. ... I think some of the 500-mile races we have are extremely long, and obviously, I'm open to shortening just about anything."

At a time when attention spans seem shorter than ever, Hamlin said 500-milers are too long in length to keep many fans interested. In Hamlin's estimation, fans would miss little in a race that featured 100 fewer miles.

"It's tough to keep your audience for four-and-a-half hours, which is what a 500 mile race around here would be," he said. "You're going to find out after 400 or 500 (miles), really what's the difference?

Not everyone is in favor of cutting laps and condensing the action.

Among those opposed is Carl Edwards, who last week won the 500-lapper at Bristol that took 3 hours, 11 minutes to complete (excluding the six-hour delay for rain). The Roush Fenway Racing driver feels there is something to be said for withstanding the grind associated with running 500 miles.

"Hell no. Longer is better," Edwards said. "My opinion is that [racing] is supposed to be a test of man and machine.

"People pay good money for the tickets and ought to make an afternoon out of it. To me, I guess some people might be jaded that come to the race track every week and only think about going home, but for me racing to finish a 500-miler somewhere is special. That is what NASCAR is about to me. It is supposed to take a whole afternoon."

And then there are those who don't want to stop at just trimming race distances. That camp includes six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

"It's a great idea," Johnson said of contracting the schedule. "Maybe 25 races a year would be really good? Thirty maybe?"

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