Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick call for shorter, fewer races

Jay Busbee
January 27, 2011

Interesting tidbit out of the Hendrick Motorsports camp this week: two of the most visible faces in NASCAR are calling for shorter and fewer races. They join Fox Sports chairman David Hill in suggesting that maybe the season and the individual races run too long.

So will these three enact any meaningful change in NASCAR? It could happen, but don't hold your breath.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is forthright in wanting shorter races. "Pocono races are entirely too long," he said in Hendrick's media discussions. "I think that NASCAR should shoot for about a three-hour, 3 hour and 15 minute televised event and try to fit into that sort of timeframe, but it can’t be done at all times. I think you’ve got to have races like the 600-miler, the Daytona 500 and things like that ... Then you go to Pocono and it’s entirely too long, obviously. It’s an obvious, glaring issue with everyone that is there, but it’s like this huge pink elephant that nobody wants to talk about."

Pink elephant, white elephant, whatever. Rick Hendrick echoed Junior's comments: "I absolutely think the races ought to be shorter, and I think the season ought to be shorter," he said.

The problem, both acknowledged, is how to get that toothpaste back into the tube. Cutting the distance of races is one thing; several tracks have already done that in recent years. But cutting races? You're talking about people's livelihoods there.

"It's almost as if each race is a limb that you can't amputate," Earnhardt said. "It's too big a deal to shorten the season. It's not a simple task to say, 'All right, sorry, you're losing a date, this guy is losing a date, everybody cool?'"

So while we won't see a decline in the 36-race season, it's pretty likely a few races will see their laps shortened. You can probably guess which ones everyone would like to see go first.