NAS­CAR re­duces week­end sched­ule

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NFL / MOTOR SPORTS -

LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch usu­ally wakes up around 8 a.m. or so on race day and just waits un­til he’s needed for a meet-and-greet be­fore he slips into the No. 18 Toy­ota.

But if he’s up, he may as well qual­ify be­fore lunch. And if he wins the pole, well, he may as well go win the race.

Busch was the big­gest bene­fac­tor in NAS­CAR’s de­ci­sion to try a re­duced week­end Cup sched­ule at Po­cono Race­way. NAS­CAR ditched the tra­di­tional prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions on Fri­day and drivers made their run at the pole just a few hours be­fore the start of Sun­day’s race. Busch won the pole and won a race for the first time this sea­son.

“I wouldn’t mind more days like that,” Busch said. “With my Xfin­ity and Truck ef­forts get­ting cut back more and more each year, that’s go­ing to be more Fri­days at home with my son. That’s go­ing to be more fun for us drivers.”

NAS­CAR will try the two­day show again this week at Watkins Glen and Oct. 29 at Martinsville.

Po­cono threw an in­field fan fes­ti­val on Fri­day night and a solid crowd turned out to watch Dale Earn­hardt Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kyle Lar­son, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Michael McDow­ell have fun par­tic­i­pat­ing in lip sync bat­tles, cook­ing showdowns and the like.

Watkins Glen is hold­ing its own fan fest and a coun­try mu­sic con­cert Fri­day night.

The real ben­e­fit to the skinny sched­ule is that teams can save money and spend more time at home. The cash and days off add up over the course of one of the more gru­el­ing sched­ules in sports. Plus, it’s hardly worth it for tracks to open the gates any­more on Fri­days to draw a crowd not much larger than a mi­nor league base­ball game.

“That’s re­ally what it’s about, it’s about qual­ity of life for the team guys, giv­ing them an ex­tra day,” 2014 NAS­CAR cham­pion Kevin Har­vick said. “If we can add that up 10, 15, 20 week­ends, that’s two or three weeks that you can keep those guys at home and let them spend some time with their fam­i­lies and kids and wives. Ev­ery­body is just gone so much, it’s al­most be­com­ing harder and harder — it is be­com­ing harder and harder — to hire peo­ple be­cause it is such a grind.”

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