No day is slower on the sporting calendar than the Wednesday after Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. All four of North America's most prominent stick-and-ball sports are off and it's the very reason why ESPN schedules the ESPY Awards for that evening.
Someone pointed this void out to Brad Keselowski Wednesday afternoon, who upon realizing the dearth of sporting activity expressed a sentiment many within NASCAR share: "3 words," Keselowski tweeted, "Mid-Week-Races." Quickly, Kevin Harvick voiced his support tweeting, "Yes, yes and yes."
I honestly can't think of a good reason why we couldn't race mid-week... https://t.co/3L11CF9rmc— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 15, 2015
That two of its most high-profile stars expressed a desire for a midweek Sprint Cup race isn't reason enough for NASCAR to stage an event off its customary Saturday night, Sunday routine. No, the sanctioning body should schedule a midweek race for its top division because it makes sense from a marketing perspective.
Though finding a venue willing to forgo its traditional date and a certain decrease in attendance is a challenge -- overnight camping would diminish greatly -- the advantages are too numerous to disregard.
Summertime programming is vapid, mostly featuring reality television, reruns of sitcoms and procedurals from a just-completed season. Which means not only would a mid-July primetime midweek Cup race have little competition, but it would also provide ample opportunity to attract casual and non-fans alike.
People home without an assortment of viewing options is a business model sports leagues have capitalized on to great success. It's why the NFL schedules games for Thanksgiving, the NBA for Christmas Day and the NHL and major bowl games for New Year's Day.
If NASCAR needs inspiration for why it should attempt a midweek race, it should take note of how once it was considered sacrilege to have an NFL game on any other day than Sunday. But spurred by the quest to grow its appeal -- as well as to line its pockets -- the NFL expanded its foothold to Monday and Thursday nights.
A NASCAR testing policy that this week saw a three-day session scheduled at Chicagoland Speedway just 48 hours following a Saturday night race at Kentucky Speedway assuages any concerns of overwhelming team personnel already burdened by excessive travel.
If teams can test extensively, overcoming the logistics of a midweek race isn't unreasonable.
People always come to great events. NFL packs stadiums for thanksgiving, NBA for Christmas. NASCAR can too. https://t.co/DxRgq9UVY7— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 15, 2015
And the concept of NASCAR running a premier division race outside of the weekend isn't foreign. From 1959-1987, Daytona International Speedway held its second Cup date on July 4th -- no matter which day of the week that fell upon.
When NBC resumed its NASCAR coverage this season after an eight-year hiatus, it asked for its debut race, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, to shift from Saturday July 4 to July 5. The reasoning was straightforward: Wanting to maximize viewership numbers, the network found it best not to schedule a race for a night when few people would be home to watch.
NASCAR agreed. And while the move backfired when storms forced a nearly four-hour delay with the green flag not falling until almost midnight ET, the reasoning was sound.
That same reasoning is why NASCAR, in conjunction with NBC, would be judicious to select a Cup race -- ideally a short track -- to run on a Wednesday. With no other sports league of consequence taking the field, NASCAR instantly moves to the forefront on a night sports fans are left with little alternative.
The chance is there for NASCAR to own a specific day just as the NFL monopolizes Thanksgiving and the NBA Christmas Day. It's an opportunity just waiting to be seized where the rewards far outweigh any downside.