News & Media

Head2Head: Which Cup race should be reduced in length?

June 11, 2012, ,

Pocono Raceway, for the first time in its 38-year history, ran a race scheduled for just 400 miles and it appears to have been a success. The race was more entertaining and more exciting than in years past and on the surface, it looks like shortening the race was the right move.

Which race would you most like to see reduced in length?


Let me preface this. With the two Pocono races being shortened 100 miles, I think the current Cup schedule -- as bloated as it is at 36 races plus exhibitions -- is probably as close to satisfactory as its ever going to get. But that doesn't answer the question posed this week.

So forced to choose, I'd suggest taking 100 miles off the Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway. Yes, it's heresy and goes against anything American and patriotic and fervent fans of the No. 88. But it's the one track where perhaps less is more.

When Bill France settled on 500 miles for the new Talladega track in the fall of 1969, that distance was considered a major test of both man and machine. It was tough on tires, on engines, on transmissions and definitely on the drivers. Races were as much as survival as they were about speed.

But as technology has improved reliability, mechanical failures are the exception rather than the norm. And with the current restrictor plate package -- which severely limits the amount of tandem drafting -- drivers are more apt to "ride around" in an attempt to save their cars for the final 100 miles.

It's gotten so bad that Talladega and fuel mileage are now mentioned in the same sentence. That's the real heresy. A 400- miler at Talladega would take less than three hours to run: A perfect length for amping up the excitement in person and for the folks watching on TV.

Mark Aumann, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

There are so many races to choose from, since anything more than three hours is too much in my book, but if I had to pick one race to shorten, it would have to be either of the Martinsville marathons.

Look, I love Martinsville. I saw my first race in person at the Paperclip and loved every second of it. But let's be honest ... 500 laps at Martinsville just isn't as entertaining as it used to be.

Sure, the laps at Martinsville go quick. At .526-miles in length, the laps tick off at a dizzying pace. But do we really need 500 of them? In this new era of long, green-flag runs, it doesn't take long for the top 10 to start lapping the field. Reducing the number of laps to 400 will ensure more cars on the lead lap, which in turn leads to more exciting racing in the final 50-plus laps.

Besides, as I said earlier, no race should be more than three hours and Martinsville, despite its miniature nature, is a miniseries on television. This race averages a length of 3 hours and 35 minutes and only twice since 2009 has it come in at less than three-and-a-half hours. It's just too darn long.

With only a handful of races 500 miles in length (Daytona, Darlington, etc.), there aren't any you would want to cut. That means if I had the power to take the hatchet to a race length, I'd look at the short tracks -- with Martinsville at the top of my list.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

This got Mark Aumann and Bill Kimm thinking -- if reducing Pocono to 400 miles made the race more exciting, what other race could be reduced in an effort to make it more entertaining? Read their picks and weigh in with your own in the comments below.