NASCAR standardizes start times for 2010; Daytona 500 will now start at 1 p.m.

October 8th, 2009 by

Orlando Sentinel– The Daytona 500 will have more time to wait out the rain next season — NASCAR moved up the race’s start time to 1 p.m., its earliest start time since 2003.

NASCAR will standardize start times for its races in 2010. All eastern and central time zone races will begin at 1 p.m. eastern, all pacific time zone races will begin at 3 p.m. eastern and all night races will begin at 7:30 p.m. eastern.

“This is fantastic news,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “The start time had grown to be our No. 2 complaint behind the economy and the cost of coming to the event. That’s ahead of traffic, bathrooms, t-shirts cost too much, rain all that other kinds of stuff. We’ll expect to see ticket sales increase almost immediately.”

Braig said the track has been asking NASCAR to return to an earlier start time ever since FOX took over early-season broadcasts and made the race later.

This season’s Daytona 500 start time was 3:30 p.m., and the race was cut short due to rain. Many speculated that had the race begun earlier, it could have finished, or at least run longer, before rain washed it out.

“It will give us more flexibility if rain should occur,” NASCAR CEO Brian France said. “Definitely be an added benefit. Certainly wasn’t the reason we all did this, it will be an added benefit.”

France said an advisory council made up of about 25,000 fans was consulted in making the change. NASCAR and its partners said the change was made in order to appeal to NASCAR’s core fans which appreciate the sport’s tradition of early afternoon races.

“We started to tamper with something we shouldn’t have,” said David Hill, the chairman of FOX Sports.

Hill said the networks pushed the start times later and later to capture a larger audience and boost television ratings. Capturing a west coast audience was part of the reason the networks did that.

That was the wrong move, Hill said. He said NASCAR’s core fans didn’t appreciate the changes and tradition is more important than what he called an “artificial” ratings boost.

“I expect the ratings to drop next year,” Hill said. “What we’re interested in is not short term growth but long term growth.”

2 Responses

  1. NASCAR standardizes start times for 2010; Daytona 500 will now … | About Cars

    [...] more from the original source:  NASCAR standardizes start times for 2010; Daytona 500 will now … Related Posts:New 2010 Daytona 500 Logo | NASCAR San DiegoNASCAR Daily News | Voice of the NASCAR [...]

  2. davy

    1PM start of the race? Baloney!! 1 o’clock is when the talking heads start yapping. Green flag is likely at 1:25PM.

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