NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Events Will Move to Earlier, Uniform Start Times for the 2010 Season


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Events Will Move to Earlier, Uniform Start Times for the 2010 Season

Beginning with The Daytona 500 on February 14,

28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races will begin at an earlier time in 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 7, 2009) – Continuing the sport’s “back to basics” approach, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and its television broadcast partners today announced earlier, uniform start times in  2010 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.

NASCAR worked closely with FOX, Turner, ESPN/ABC and the tracks on this project for the fans.  The race start times for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2010 in the eastern and central regions will begin at 1:00pm ET, west coast events will begin at 3:00pm ET, and night races will begin at 7:30pm ET. (The one exception is NASCAR’s longest night race, the Coca-Cola 600, which will have the same 5:45 p.m. ET start time.) Following the invocation and national anthem, the green flag will drop at approximately 15 – 20 minutes past the hour after each stated race event start time.

“NASCAR fans have been asking for earlier and more consistent start times, and we are making this change for our fans, beginning with the Daytona 500 next February,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.  “We are revisiting our sport’s tradition of earlier green flags, and the added consistency will make it easier for fans to know exactly when the races are being televised.  Additionally, the new start times will help track operators get fans in and out of the track earlier in the evening. Many fans heading home from the race earlier will be able to eliminate the costs of an extra travel day.”

A total of 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races will be held at an earlier time from 2009 of which 20 races are moved to 1:00pm ET, including the 2010 Daytona 500.  (Moving up the start of “The Great American Race” 2.5 hours will bring the earliest start time for the Daytona 500 since 2003, when the race was also scheduled for 1 p.m.) Five races move earlier to the 3pm ET start and three races start earlier at 7:30pm ET.

In making the decision for earlier, more uniform start times, NASCAR consulted its Fan Council, comprised of 12,000 avid fans who serve as a sounding board on important topics. Half of NASCAR avid fans said they are often unclear about what time NASCAR races actually start.  When given the chance to choose a start time, more than two-thirds of avid NASCAR fans preferred early Sunday afternoon.

“It’s become clear to us that traditional, early Sunday afternoon, start times are favored by NASCAR fans who both attend races and watch on television,” said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill.  “NASCAR, perhaps more than any other sport, belongs to the generations of fans who have passed on their passion, father to son, mother to daughter, so whatever we can do to make them feel better connected to the sport they love should be done.”

“Many fans have been interested in standard start times for NASCAR’s television partners.  In the long term, we believe this change will make the viewing experience better for everyone,” said David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting’s distribution, sales and sports.  “NASCAR races continue to deliver solid, consistent ratings for TNT.  When you combine TV ratings to the number of people who visit, the sport clearly remains very healthy and popular.”

“We enthusiastically support consistent start times and are happy to have worked with NASCAR on this move,” said John Skipper, ESPN’s Executive Vice President, Content. “We are thrilled about our position with NASCAR and bullish about the long-term prospects.”

“An earlier starting time for the Daytona 500 is great news for our race fans,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “In recent years, race fans made their desire very clear for an earlier starting time.  With the help of our partners in the sport at NASCAR and FOX Sports, we’re proud to deliver an earlier starting time for the 2010 Daytona 500.”

“This is a very positive move for our fans,” said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager for New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  “For example, it allows us another hour of daylight to run our races and to get traffic out before nightfall.  Based on the letters I receive from fans, I know they will appreciate NASCAR making this change.  For years, the NFL has been very successful with its standardized start times of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.  You never have to guess when their games start on Sunday.  I think that same template will help our sport as well.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races will be seen on either FOX, TNT, ESPN or ABC.  The 2010 television schedule for points races is below.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule with Start Times (All times Eastern)

Date           Day            Race Site   Network                                       Race         Start Time

14-Feb     Sun.          Daytona 500                                              FOX          1:00 PM

21-Feb     Sun.          Auto Club Speedway                               FOX          3:00 PM

28-Feb     Sun.          Las Vegas Motor Speedway                  FOX          3:00 PM

7-Mar        Sun.          Atlanta Motor Speedway                         FOX          1:00 PM

21-Mar      Sun.          Bristol Motor Speedway                          FOX          1:00 PM

28-Mar      Sun.          Martinsville Speedway                             FOX          1:00 PM

10-Apr      Sat.           Phoenix International Raceway               FOX          7:30 PM

18-Apr      Sun.          Texas Motor Speedway                           FOX          1:00 PM

25-Apr      Sun.          Talladega Superspeedway                     FOX          1:00 PM

1-May       Sat.           Richmond International Raceway            FOX          7:30 PM

8-May       Sat.           Darlington Raceway                                 FOX          7:30 PM

16-May     Sun.          Dover International Speedway                FOX          1:00 PM

30-May     Sun.          Lowe’s Motor Speedway                         FOX          5:45 PM

6-Jun         Sun.          Pocono Raceway                                     TNT           1:00 PM

13-Jun      Sun.          Michigan International Speedway           TNT           1:00 PM

20-Jun      Sun.          Infineon Raceway                                      TNT           3:00 PM

27-Jun      Sun.          New Hampshire Motor Speedway          TNT           1:00 PM

3-Jul          Sat.           Daytona International Speedway            TNT           7:30 PM

10-Jul        Sat.           Chicagoland Speedway                          TNT           7:30 PM

25-Jul        Sun.          Indianapolis Motor Speedway                 ESPN       1:00 PM

1-Aug        Sun.          Pocono Raceway                                     ESPN       1:00 PM

8-Aug        Sun.          Watkins Glen International                       ESPN       1:00 PM

15-Aug     Sun.          Michigan International Speedway           ESPN       1:00 PM

21-Aug     Sat.           Bristol Motor Speedway                          ESPN       7:30 PM

5-Sep       Sun.          Atlanta Motor Speedway                         ESPN       7:30 PM

11-Sep     Sat.           Richmond International Raceway            ABC          7:30 PM

19-Sep     Sun.          New Hampshire Motor Speedway          ABC          1:00 PM

26-Sep     Sun.          Dover International Speedway                ABC          1:00 PM

3-Oct         Sun.          Kansas Speedway                                   ABC          1:00 PM

10-Oct      Sun.          Auto Club Speedway                               ABC          3:00 PM

16-Oct      Sat.           Lowe’s Motor Speedway                         ABC          7:30 PM

24-Oct      Sun.          Martinsville Speedway                             ABC          1:00 PM

31-Oct      Sun.          Talladega Superspeedway                     ABC          1:00 PM

7-Nov        Sun.          Texas Motor Speedway                           ABC          1:00 PM

14-Nov      Sun.          Phoenix International Raceway               ABC          3:00 PM

21-Nov      Sun.          Homestead-Miami Speedway                ABC          1:00 PM


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