Should the Cup season close with Daytona 500?

With the announcement of the point system overhaul several weeks ago began the inevitable conversation of schedule realignment in 2005. As it stands now, the last ten events are New Hampshire, Dover, Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte, Martinsville, ...

With the announcement of the point system overhaul several weeks ago began the inevitable conversation of schedule realignment in 2005. As it stands now, the last ten events are New Hampshire, Dover, Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte, Martinsville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Darlington and Miami. A nice round division of tracks, but not a single true crown jewel event in the bunch.

Thus the obvious question: should NASCAR end the season with their premium event, the Daytona 500?

The NASCAR marketing department has long touted the Daytona 500 as the "Super Bowl" of racing. So, if you are going to move to a "playoff" type format, shouldn't NASCAR have a season finale?

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. seems to think so, "I think that's a good idea, I would not move the Daytona 500 from where it is know, but maybe we should start and finish here. Maybe they should have another 500-mile race here that is the season finale. That would be pretty interesting, and I think it's probably an idea in somebody's head right now.

"It's just a matter of time. Because I think that is where we are headed. You see NASCAR making all of these changes, trying to complete the total package, and I think that they understand that we need a finale. And we are probably going to get it soon."

The idea really isn't that far-fetched. Just six months ago no one could have imagined NASCAR shuffling its beloved Southern 500 out of its traditional Labor Day weekend spot. Yet, this year for Labor Day we will be in Southern California. Is it so hard to imagine NASCAR trading the sweltering night race in July to a cooler November Florida evening?

To this reporter, nothing would be more splendiferous than for NASCAR to end their season under the lights at Daytona. Now that friend is a season finale.

Most drivers seem to agree that if NASCAR is going to stick with the current revisions in the point system, then there needs to be some kind of climax at the end of the season. Whether you call it the Daytona 500, or the Pepsi 500 or the Firecracker 500 (which would be my pick -FYI) popular opinion remains the same, let's close and open with a 500-mile event at Daytona.

"It's not going to change the way the Daytona 500 is perceived," said Robby Gordon. "Like I have said before, Daytona is always Daytona. You can put the race on Christmas and people are going to come."

Veteran driver Ricky Rudd would also not be surprised if the change came next season, "If there ever was a consensus that it would make the sport better, at least from a fans perspective, the "Super Bowl" coming at the end of the year. It has potential. Before I would have said no way, it's always been at this particular time and I don't see that changing. But now it wouldn't surprise me in the least."

There was a time when fans couldn't imagine NASCAR's top division being called anything but the Winston Cup, there was a time when fans could not conceive a radical point system revision, there was a time when the loyalists couldn't not imagine a billion dollar television package.

But times change, and so most NASCAR to stay competitive with sports like the NFL and Major League Baseball.

Do you want to start giving those sports a run for their money in ratings? Let's move this sucker to the end of the year, and end it in true NASCAR fashion. With sparks exploding as the cars bottom out in the corners, whipping around the 2.5-mile storied speedway at 180+ mph, right in NASCAR's hometown.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt