One of the most common criticisms about NASCAR is the length of time it takes to complete a race. While many races may be completed in under two and a half hours, most of them can feel like they last well into the afternoon or evening. Why are NASCAR races so long?
Each NASCAR race differs with regard to the size of the track and mileage. Some races me be over in a couple of hours, and some may go well over six hours. Factors that affect race time are the number of accidents, bad weather, unique track conditions, and other safety concerns on race day.
When NASCAR first started, it was heavily supported by the car manufacturers, and the cars were ‘stock’ production cars with limited modifications for speed. The car that won the race on Sunday was a car you could buy at the dealers on Monday. ‘Stockcar racing’ was good advertising for the manufacturers, and the long races showed the cars’ reliability and speed.
Why Is NASCAR Races So Long?
The fact that NASCAR has no set track size or mileage is one of its distinguishing traits. Each race has its own distance, which helps determine how many laps the cars do around the course.
A 500-mile race (Daytona 500) may appear to stretch on for hours with no apparent end. It may be surprising to realize that such a long marathon may be completed in just a few hours, as the 500 miles are completed in just 200 laps (2.5 miles per lap.)
One of the most thrilling aspects of watching a NASCAR race is not knowing when or how it will conclude. There is no limit to how long a race can last. As a result, some races may last only a few hours, while others may go all day. Most fans embrace this longer scenario, incorporating it into the overall experience, while others tend to moan a bit when a race goes into “overtime.”
Money also plays a part, as the longer the broadcast, the more advertisers will climb on board. However, some factors can influence a NASCAR race and the time it takes to conclude:
Different Track Conditions Of NASCAR Tracks
NASCAR ovals may appear to be very similar. Each one, though, is unique. Each circuit has its own qualities that influence the circuit’s overall speed and length. Some racetracks feature steeper banking, which results in faster speeds and lap times.
Other courses may feature newer tarmac, which offers the car better grip and, as a result, faster lap times than a circuit with an older configuration. In the end, all of these elements combine to determine the length of a NASCAR race.
Races with larger lap times are longer. NASCAR adjusts by reducing the number of laps to keep most races at the same length (as well as distance). It can still translate to longer races if cars take more time to complete laps.
Accidents Happen In NASCAR
Stock car racing is a high-octane sport involving bumping and pushing to win track positions. The high rate of accidents is generally attributed to this rough racing style that’s best described as pedal to the medal.
Following a crash, race leaders frequently order drivers to slow down or even stop racing while safety crews clear the raceway of debris. When a safety car is present on the track, the race slows down, which means laps are completed slower, ultimately extending the race time.
Furthermore, significant damage may result in oil spills or flames, which must be addressed. Before racing can begin, oil spills must be thoroughly cleaned up, as any remaining oil on the racetrack could cause another accident.
The drama of a crash makes for more interesting viewing and changes the race dynamics, which fans enjoy when watching a race.
Weather Interruptions Will Delay A NASCAR Race
A NASCAR Cup Series race can be effectively ruined by bad weather. Rain causes several races to be delayed or postponed for days after they begin. While some motorsport federations race in the rain, NASCAR does not.
NASCAR drivers and fans alike have to wait patiently before the action resumes or starts when mother nature flexes her muscles. When the rain ends, race organizers will dry the track, which will add time to the restart time.
What Are the longest Rain Delays in NASCAR
There have been a few long rain delays in the long history of NASCAR racing. One record, just like Bill Elliott’s lap record at Talladega, is unlikely to be broken any time soon. We take a look at some of the longest rain delays in the Sports history below, ones that really test the patience of fans who sit for hours in the bleachers waiting for the skies to clear.
|Racetrack||Date||Length of Delay||Eventual Winner.|
|Bristol||March 11th, 1973||2 weeks||Carl Yarborough|
|Texas||October 25th, 2020||3 days||Kyle Busch|
|*Auto Club Speedway||February 24th, 2008||1 day||Carl Edwards|
|*Dover||May 1st, 2022||1 day||Chase Elliott|
|*Daytona||Feb 16th, 2020||1 day||Denny Hamlin|
*there have been a few Day long rain delays in NASCAR – we have highlighted 3 here.
Any Safety Concerns Will Delay A NASCAR Race
Race leaders may delay or pause the race if any track repairs or cleanups are required. Cars rubbing against a speedway’s barriers or catch fence can cause damage, which must be fixed to ensure the safety of all the drivers and team members.
The race will be put on hold so workers may fix the parts of the track deemed a safety concern.
What Is NASCAR Doing To Ensure Shorter Race Time?
Recently, NASCAR has sought to appeal to a broader audience of fans who may not want to watch an extended race on Sunday. As a result, the organization has put on shorter races, like the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles in 2022.
The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, and the Food City Dirt Race in Bristol, Tennessee, are shorter races during the NASCAR season.
On the schedule of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series, there are both oval and road races. Because NASCAR cars take longer to get around a road circuit, road races are usually shorter than oval races.
To allow for slower driving on the road course, the Toyota/SaveMart 350, which takes place in Sonoma, California, is just 218 miles long. The addition of stages to races has allowed the series to split the action into shorter spurts over a longer period.
NASCAR Fans Love Racing
NASCAR is a perfect example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it.” NASCAR makes for an entertaining spectacle, where fans can actively engage with teams, drivers, and even pit crews before the race.
Following the race via an uncensored commentary via a race scanner throws you in the middle of the commentary action. You can even dial into what the drivers are saying as they fly around the track; it’s a unique experience in motorsport.
With over 30 events across the country (mostly in the South), people will drive for hours to attend the race closest to their hometown. Who in their right mind drives 2-3 hours to watch a race that takes less time to complete than their own commute? Not race-hungry Americans.
We love to be entertained! NASCAR is where you take your family to introduce them to “real racing” in real cars, where any one of the 35-40 drivers can sneak a win. It’s an extravaganza of endurance and speed, and everyone attending is closely involved in the action.
Yes, to other racing fans who are into F1 and such, it may seem stretched out at times, races going on for hours on end. Not for the hundreds of thousands who set aside a day, not a couple of hours, to go to the races.
They call it a race day, not a race hour!
NASCAR races can go on for a long time when certain events occur on track. Most fans won’t be bothered by this as it equates to more racing, which translates to a more exciting experience. However, NASCAR is implementing some smaller races to incorporate the fans who prefer a shorter race time.
A driver’s test will always remain on the longer tracks while hundreds of thousands of loyal fans urge them on.
And as a side note if you think the NASCAR races can go on to long, there was an an Indy Car race that had a delay of 11 weeks, spare a thought for those fans!!