There’s been a lot of talk about the length of NASCAR races this year.
After last month’s race at Atlanta lasted nearly 4 hours, and this past weekend’s Martinsville race was shortened by 100 laps for the first time, many are calling for NASCAR to cut back on many of the 500-mile races that have become somewhat of a staple on the Cup Series circuit.
Well count Kevin Harvick as one who’s hoping to see 500 miles become the exception and not the norm on the Cup Series schedule.
During an interview with Davey Segal of Frontstretch, Harvick had some pretty strong thoughts on whether Cup races should be shortened:
“Outside of the Coke 600, and I think that one’s probably a debate as well, the thing that people have to realize is that there’s going to be a lot more cautions. It’s not the racing that we’ve had for the past several years with a limited amount of cautions.
There’s going to be a ton of cautions as we’ve seen through all these races. I don’t think, from a driver’s standpoint, that any of us want to race 500 mile races anyway. 500 miles at Atlanta with the restrictor plate, that was a long day. It felt like we were in there forever.”
Kevin’s got a point about the cautions. Since NASCAR implemented stage racing, every race is guaranteed to have at least two cautions at the end of each of the first two stages, which is automatically going to make the race longer.
And as any NASCAR fan will tell you, cautions breed cautions, so when you bunch up the field for a restart like NASCAR is doing at least twice a race, that presents more of a chance of another caution coming out and slowing the race down even more.
That’s not even mentioning the higher number of cautions we’ve seen this year with the implementation of the new Next Gen car. And at longer tracks like Texas Motor Speedway, caution laps (obviously) take a lot longer than they do at shorter tracks.
So are there some races that should probably be shortened? Absolutely.
But even Harvick agrees there are some races (well, at least one) that should be left alone:
“I think the Daytona 500, obviously, needs to be 500 miles. And the Coke 600 could be debated. But the rest of these races, they shouldn’t even allow them to have 500 mile races. They to me seem like a thing of the past.”
This isn’t the first time Harvick’s pushed for shorter races. Back in 2017, Harvick argued on his radio show that only the “crown jewel” races should be 500 miles (or longer):
“I think the 500-mile race is a long time. I think with the stage racing and the things that we have going now and the attention spans of what people want to watch, I think that there should be the Coke 600, the Daytona 500, the Southern 500, the crown jewel events should have those distances, and I think everything else should be shorter.”
But Harvick’s not the only driver who thinks the Cup races are too long. Truck Series driver Hailey Deegan also took to Twitter this week to argue for cutting some laps off of the Cup races, arguing that it would help keep the attention of younger fans with shorter attention spans:
Also in my opinion a lot of people don’t have 4 hours 36x a year to spend watching a race on tv.
Obviously nothing’s going to change this season, but with the number of people who are speaking out this year, don’t be surprised if NASCAR takes a hard look at shortening some of their Cup Series races in the future.