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July 22, 2014

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NASCAR’s move to change start times is the right decision

Inevitably at some point during the week my wife asks me, “What time is the race on this weekend?” She always likes to know at what point during the weekend I’ll be in a do-not-disturb mode as I watch the race. I usually respond with a blank look on my face since there are as many different start times as there are paint schemes on the Cup cars.

In the 2009 season there have been or will be 16 races starting at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, five starting between 3:24-3:30 p.m., six between 7:20-7:30 p.m. and two at 8 p.m. There also are races starting at 1 p.m., 5 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. But that is about to change.

NASCAR announced yesterday that 20 races will start at 1 p.m. next season and that, overall, 28 races will start earlier than they did in 2009. Hallelujah!

NASCAR and the networks realized that later start times weren’t helping the ratings as they had hoped. Seems the more traditional start times may be what people expect. David Hill, the chairman of Fox Sports, told NASCAR Scene: “We started to tamper with something that we shouldn’t have.”

Fortunately, NASCAR and Mr. Hill came to their senses and responded to the wishes of the fans. Consistency, in my book, makes setting time aside for watching the races easier. Now, I know it’s unrealistic to ask, but I’d love to see the races on fewer networks, too.

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