The debate of when a Monster Energy Cup race should begin reignited this weekend on social media after some complaints by those in the sport and a response Monday by new NASCAR President Brent Dewar.
Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway marked the first of five consecutive races that have listed start times of 3 p.m. ET.
Clint Bowyer posted a tweet shortly after Sunday’s race that simply read “3:00 starts suck!”
Samantha Busch, wife of Kyle Busch, tweeted Sunday that she was not a fan of later start times but asked what fans thought.
Dewar, promoted to NASCAR president last week from his role as chief operating officer, addressed the matter Monday on “The Morning Drive’’ when asked about possible changes to the schedule beyond 2018.
Dewar mentioned that the schedule was an example of collaboration with NASCAR’s partners, which includes TV networks, and noted that “there were tradeoffs that we needed to make both for broadcast, tracks, teams, etc.
“We did some later start times this year and some in the industry have not liked that, but it was important to interact with our West Coast audience,’’ Dewar said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Still our largest audience is California, and 1 o’clock starts is too early for them on the West Coast. So we’re trying to find the right balance of that. But yes, I think you’ll see more innovation to make it a win-win for the industry. We will do it together as an industry. It won’t be unilateral on NASCAR’s part.’’
Last year, 12 of the 36 Cup points races had start times listed as 1 or 1:30 p.m. ET. This year, there are three such races.
Last year, five Cup points races had start times listed as 3 or 3:30 p.m. ET. This year, there are 13 such races.
The remaining Cup races scheduled to start before 3 p.m. ET are all in the playoffs:
(All times listed are Eastern)
Sept. 24 — New Hampshire … 2 p.m.
Oct. 1 — Dover … 2 p.m.
Oct. 8 — Charlotte … 2 p.m.
Oct. 15 — Talladega … 2 p.m.
Oct. 29 — Martinsville … 1 p.m.
Nov. 5 — Texas … 2 p.m.
Nov. 12 — Phoenix … 2:30 p.m.
Nov. 19 — Homestead … 2:30 p.m.
Among the comments made on social media Monday about the start time and Dewar’s comments: