TALLADEGA, Ala. – International Speedway Corp., is exploring the possibility of moving the start of the spring Richmond race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, an ISC official told NBC Sports.
“I’m not going to say seriously, but we are exploring it,’’ said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, who also oversees Richmond International Raceway and Darlington Raceway for International Speedway Corp.
“We’re always entertaining whatever can make our events better for the broadcasters, for the fans and for the competitors and that’s part of it.’’
Reigning champion Kevin Harvick said this week that Saturday night races need to move to Sunday afternoons, citing higher TV ratings for those events.
Richmond’s Saturday night race was postponed by rain and moved to Sunday afternoon last week. Fox drew a 3.3 rating for Sunday race – a higher rating than the Saturday night race at Texas Motor Speedway in April. The Texas race drew a 2.9 rating.
“It was encouraging that the makeup day on Sunday was as good as it was,’’ Campbell said of the Richmond TV rating.
There are other considerations.
ISC, as part of its typical post-event critique, is examining how far Richmond’s ticket holders travel to attend that race.
“If we run Saturday night, there are so many fans that are not staying there or not staying on property or not staying in the region and they drive back home in the middle of the night,’’ Campbell said. “How many that is versus if we did it Sunday and they could leave right after the race and drive home – that’s things we need to look at and do some questioning with our fanbase.’’
Another factor could be weather.
“I think the weather is more conducive in the fall for night and more conducive in the spring for day,’’ Campbell said.
“I think at the end of the day we’ll make the right decision on whether it’s day or night.’’
He said that there isn’t as much interest in changing the fall Richmond race – the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins – to a Sunday event. That’s the opening weekend for the NFL.