BRISTOL, Tennessee – Chase Elliott said fall is his favorite time of the year to watch sports, but he doesn’t believe NASCAR’s schedule fits that list.
The 2020 Cup Series champion has lobbied for an early end to the Cup season, and last week he spoke out again, noting: “Less is more.” in a NACSAR 2023 schedule release retweet.
Asked by NBC Sports for clarification during an appearance Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, the four-time most popular driver said: “36 (races)… 45… 50… I don’t think it matters how many races we have, but I don’t see the point. compete with NFL football when it starts. In my opinion, this is not a battle we will ever win. I think we have to be smart about it.”
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After a reduction from 48 races in 1972, NASCAR runs races every year until the fall, and since 2001, the Cup schedule has had 36 races.
Elliott believes that a “more compact schedule” in a shorter time frame than nine months (even with more races) will attract a larger audience.
“I don’t make the rules and no one asks my opinion if that’s the case,” he said. “And that’s perfectly fine, I don’t ask for this job. I don’t want this job. But I strongly believe that less is more in terms of schedule timing and when we can finish our season to make the most of TV ratings and such. I think we could do better personally.”
Less = More.
I also love night racing. https://t.co/cDT4wEECW4
— Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) September 14, 2022
Elliott also tweeted: “I like night racing too.” as a sign that only 3-point races take place under the lights (Bristol on Easter Sunday 9 April and 16 September; Coca-Cola 600 also starts during the day and ends at night). Richmond Raceway, which has regularly hosted two annual Saturday night races for almost three decades, will host two Sunday afternoon cup races for the second consecutive season.
Elliot said he didn’t give much thought to how many night races or what tracks they should be, but he thinks the fans deserve a break in cooler conditions.
“We spend a lot of Sundays in really hot conditions, and that’s okay,” Elliott said. “I agree with it. But if I was a fan sitting in the stands, I wouldn’t be one. For three and a half hours in August, I would rather do it at night and enjoy the night race. The environment is really neat.”
Elliott really enjoys the atmosphere of the Saturday night race in Bristol, which he says was “larger than life” when he attended as a kid and “made me want to be a racing driver”. The environment is second to none and this event is special. I don’t see another date or track in our schedule that can compete with a Saturday night in August or September.
“This is the best race of the year here under the light,” he said. “I also understand that it’s cool because we don’t do much of it. But I just think you see a lot of short tracks in places where Saturday night shows are, and I think we should think about doing it more often during the summer months. This is my opinion, but again, I’m not being asked. I don’t want to be asked and I don’t want this role. Just my humble opinion.”
Take a look at the winners and losers on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Non-Playoff Drivers − Chris Buescher achieved a clean win for the non-playoff riders who won each of the three races in the first round. Eric Jones won at Darlington, Bubba Wallace won at Kansas and Buescher won at Bristol. This is Bucher’s second Cup victory. He led a race-record 169 laps out of 500.
RFK Racing – Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski cumulatively 278 laps lead. Keselowski, who won the stage, finished 13th after the leader’s tire burst. Buescher gave the team their first points win since Keselowski took over at the start of the season.
Christopher Bell — Finished fourth and won the stage to score a playoff point in the second round. In the first round, the average score is 4.0.
William Byron — After placing one in the top 10 in the last 18 races of the regular season, Byron finished in the top 10 in each of the three races in the first round. He was eighth at Darlington, sixth at Kansas and third at Bristol.
Austin Sindrik — There were four laps less than 100 laps in the race, but he kept going. Problems with others helped him secure a final spot to advance to the second round despite finishing 20th, seven laps behind the leaders.
Next generation short track car Some durability issues have created problems for the teams, with drivers stating that the cars go too fast to race well at Bristol. There is work to be done on this car.
Kevin Harvick — His race at Darlington was ended by a fire. His race in Kansas ended in a crash when two cars ahead knocked him out. When he was able to challenge for the lead late at Bristol, his left front wheel came off and he had to go back to the pits to put it back on. It cost him his chance to win and ended his title hopes. A fire, an accident, and a blown tire are some of the main concerns of a new car this year.
Richard Childress Racing – All four playoff drivers associated with this team, whether past, present or future, have failed to advance. RCR drivers Tyler Reddick as well as Austin Dillon failed to advance, as did Kevin Harvick, who played for RCR in the Cup from 2001 to 2013, and Kyle Bushwho will join the team in 2023.
Kyle Bush – Two engine failures in the first round robbed him of his last chance to win a third cup championship with Joe Gibbs Racing.
BRISTOL, Tennessee. The Next Gen car endured a durability nightmare on its debut at the hard concrete Bristol Motor Speedway with power steering failures, blown tires and mechanical gremlins.
On top of that, doing the 500 laps on Saturday night on the 0.533 mile long oval with a high grade was difficult.
There were 12 leader changes (only four under green), the fewest in more than 13 years at Bristol, as the lack of tire wear made it easier for the leader to control the race. Race winner Chris Buescher led the final 61 laps after a two-wheel stop, with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing maintaining a solid lead over runner-up. Chase Elliott (who took four tires at his last stop).
“Just went from being able to lead a parade to participating in a parade,” 10th– place finisher Kevin Harvick said Dillon Welch of NBC Sports. “It’s just hard to get through. The car is turning too fast. Can’t race.”
The lack of off-road capability, combined with reliability issues, has sparked a new round of complaints about the car, which has come under increasing criticism in recent weeks for hard knocks and faulty components. Next Gen marks the first time in NASCAR’s 74-year history that the premier Cup series has used a “special” model in which virtually all parts and chassis are made and sourced from a single source for an entire area.
We need NextGen 2.0. It remains to be seen who will pay for it.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) September 18, 2022
“The transfer was just not possible,” Hamlin told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “It was the kind of day where you had to stay ahead at all costs and we just couldn’t do it and ended up having a blown tire that sent us back and from that point on we were trying to catch up.
“(The next generation) was hard. I would like the racing to improve in general. Slight change in lap times. We just run there and we seem to be running faster in the corners than in the straights. It’s just very hard to get through. We had some steering issues and it looks like our Toyota teammates had some steering issues too.”
All six Toyotas on the field had tire problems (Hamlin, Christopher Bell), steering (Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Ty Gibbs) or engine (Kyle Bush), and there were plenty of tire problems all over the field.
Having completed (and won) the first stage of 125 laps without changing tires, Brad Keselowski he mysteriously suffered a flat tire while leading with 87 laps remaining. But the owner of the winning team defended Next Gen’s throughput, acknowledging that it still needs to be improved.
“I restarted third (140 pounds) and was able to get around the front two cars to get ahead,” Keselowski said. “I feel like yes, I can get through. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t supposed to be easy either. I wish we could keep working on…