News & Media

Head2Head: Is there too much racing under the lights?

April 09, 2012, ,

With the off weekend in the past, NASCAR returns to action this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway ... but with a twist. This is the first time this season the Cup stars will compete on Saturday night instead of the standard Sunday afternoon. And it kicks off a trend with upcoming night races at Richmond, Darlington and Charlotte.

Are there too many point-paying night races?


After five great races under the sun across this beautiful country (Daytona was an anomaly due to the weather), the Cup Series is now at the part of the schedule where fans are up until the wee hours of the morning and Sundays now become a time for chores instead of racing.

I believe night races have a place in NASCAR -- some of my fondest racing memories have come under the lights -- but three in the next five weeks is ridiculously too many.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, NASCAR is a Sunday afternoon sport. You wake up, head to church, come home and enjoy a nice three-hour race in the daylight. It just feels right.

Night races should be reserved for special events. How much more intense would the Shootout and All-Star Race be if they were the only two nighttime events on the calendar? Right now, ehh ... I've seen cars under the lights at both Daytona and Charlotte, so aside from format, there isn't much different.

Of course, Daytona's July race should be under the lights; as should the 600 and Bristol's fall race. But Texas? Come on. Does Richmond really need two at night? Kentucky? Atlanta?

NASCAR belongs on Sunday afternoon. If anything, schedule Saturday night races in the fall when the NFL is in session. But in April and May -- I'd like to keep my Saturday nights free and hear "Gentlemen, start your engines" on Sunday.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Ray Charles once sang that "night time is the right time to be with the one you love."

And, let's face it, we love racing.

NASCAR and night time go together like cans and koozies, and it's about time the sport make the hard left turn from a more equal day and dusk schedule like all other major sports already have.

Right now, the league only races 10 times out of a possible 36 regular-season dates (exhibitions like the Shootout and the May All-Star Race not included), which is ridiculous considering the pluses of night-racing.

From subjective spectator boons like added intensity under the lights and a reprieve from the dogged domination of the summer sun, to the obvious advantages of diversifying audience and improving TV ratings and ticket sales, it's an easy call.

And, it just fits better with a fan's daily clock. We have lawns to mow, kid's games to attend and honey-do boxes to be checked off during weekend days. What's the payoff? Once the sun sets, it's time to take a load off and relax ... and watch some racing. We hope.

That doesn't mean we need to do away with Sunday night races, either. Fans have been DYING for a new reason to call into work on Monday mornings, and plug another extended weekend into our calendars.

So, don't be afraid of the dark, NASCAR. After all, night time is the right time ...

Nick Margiasso, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

In all, there are 10 night races on the schedule, with a majority of them coming in the next two months. Racing under the lights is special, but is it becoming too much of a good thing? Bill Kimm and Nick Margiasso have their thoughts. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in the poll.