by Ryan Isley
Writer’s Note: This is Part 9 in a 13-Part series. Each Friday from November 23rd to February 15th, Ryan will make a prediction for the 2013 NASCAR season spanning over all three main touring series – Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. On February 8th and 15th, Ryan will predict the 12 drivers who will make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase and the Sprint Cup champion. You can check out all of the predictions here.
There are seasons when NASCAR releases the schedule for the following season and adds a few tweaks that raise the eyebrows of media members and fans alike. In 2013, they will again do this when they announce that NASCAR will have a Monday night Sprint Cup Series race on the schedule.
NASCAR has always been a league that tries to cater to the wants and needs of their fans and by adding a Monday night race – even if it would just be a measuring stick – would do just that. In 2012 when the Daytona 500 was pushed back to Monday night, the reaction of the majority of fans was positive. Having a primetime NASCAR Sprint Cup race on a weeknight was a gamble but it was one that paid off for NASCAR.
Not only were the fans that already follow the sport interested in the race, but people who normally wouldn’t watch NASCAR were tuning in as well – even if it was just because there was nothing else on television that night.
And remember – that was the race with the now infamous tweet from eventual series champion Brad Keselowski from inside his car as the race was red-flagged after Juan Pablo Montoya hit the jet dryer and caused an explosion and fire.
NASCAR would have to be very careful in how they planned out this idea in order to maximize the potential. Ideally, they would wait until the NBA and NHL playoffs are finished and make the race before the NFL season starts. The race that would make the most sense to move to Monday night would be the weekend of the first race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The race would be the Monday night before the MLB All-Star Game – a dead day in the sports schedule – and would also come the weekend before NASCAR has an off week. The NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Finals would be over for more than a month and the NFL regular season would still be almost two months away.
Adding to the perfect storm, it is historically a race that is broadcast by TNT, so FOX (who carries the MLB All-Star Game) and ESPN would not refuse to run the race as to not interfere with MLB’s home run derby and celebrity softball game.
The biggest obstacle in making this happen would be that New Hampshire Motor Speedway does not currently have lights installed – a project that has been on the table for years but not yet completed. Part of the reason for this is that the residents of Louden, New Hampshire – where the race track is located – have not wanted lights at the track. According to a poll conducted by the speedway and reported on by Jason Remillard of The Republican, the residents have begun to change their tune when it comes to lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
If the residents are in fact ok with lights being added to the race track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway could bring in temporary light standards for the Monday night race if they could not get permanent ones installed in time for the race. There are several sporting events every year that still use the temporary lights and as long as drivers are given a chance to practice under the lights to get the feel for the track with the lights on, there should not be any problem racing with them.
It all makes sense for NASCAR and the timing could not be better. They would have the sports landscape to themselves on a Monday night to showcase their product. Hell – they could even bring back Hank Williams, Jr. for Monday nights. Are you ready for some NASCAR??
So I say to the folks in charge over at NASCAR – Boys, have at it. And bring us some Monday Night racing.
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