Kevin Harvick “100 percent” believes 500-mile races like last Sunday’s at Texas Motor Speedway and other non-“crown jewel” races should be shorter.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver made the comments Tuesday night on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show, “Happy Hours.”
Harvick thinks race distances should be adjusted to fit the current landscape of NASCAR racing and fan attention spans.
There are eight 500-mile races on the schedule.
“I think the 500-mile race is a long time,” Harvick said. “I think with the stage racing and the things that we have going now and the attention spans of what people want to watch, I think that there should be the Coke 600, the Daytona 500, the Southern 500, the crown jewel events should have those distances, and I think everything else should be shorter.”
Sunday’s race in Texas was 334 laps and finished in three hours, 24 minutes and 18 seconds. It was the fourth Cup race through the first seven of the year to last longer than three hours and 20 minutes.
Last years’ spring Texas race was 3 hours, 37 minutes and 16 seconds. In 2015, it was three hours, 33 minutes and 57 seconds.
Five of the first seven races this year have been longer time wise than last year, that includes the Daytona 500 (three hours, 29 minutes and 31 seconds) and the 500-mile Atlanta race (three hours, 33 minutes and eight seconds).
Some tracks have shortened races in the last few years. In 2012, Pocono Raceway shortened both its races from 500 to 400 miles. In 2010, Auto Club Speedway did the same and Dover International Speedway went to 400-mile races back in 1997.
Phoenix Raceway briefly extended is spring race from 500 to 600 kilometers in 2010 before reverting to its original length the next year.
But the idea of Texas Motor Speedway shortening its two 500-mile races might be a pipe dream, at least as long as general manager and president Eddie Gossage has a say in the matter.
“I can tell you that the fans do not want shorter races,” Gossage told ESPN in 2015. “Period. End of story.
“The only people that want shorter races are the people that run the races — the teams. I guess I’d like to get work less and still get paid the same.”
In that same ESPN article two years ago Gossage said he hadn’t heard any talk about shortening races, especially from fans. But he had heard of discussions about “format and things like halftimes and quarters.
“… I don’t know how serious anybody is about that.”
Turns out, very.