Few things can be worse to fans than a postponed race.
While many fans return the next day despite the inconvenience, others are not as fortunate. Some are unable to go back because they must work, travel home or cannot afford to stay an extra day.
Admittedly, it’s a risk associated with attending an outdoor sporting event. But should tracks do more for fans, who can spend hundreds of dollars on tickets and then never see the race?
Most NASCAR tracks do not offer refunds or exchanges.
While a few track officials told NBC Sports that if fans called the ticket office, the track would seek to work with them on a solution, no such formal policy is listed on track websites as of today. Some track officials said they’ve allowed fans to attend both an Xfinity or Camping World Truck race and the Cup race when they’ve been scheduled for the same day instead of emptying the stands before the Cup event.
Two weeks after Martinsville Speedway’s Cup race was postponed a day by snow, the series returns to action at Texas Motor Speedway.
Those tracks offer contrasts in what they offer fans who can’t return for a rescheduled race.
Martinsville Speedway, like tracks owned by International Speedway Corp., offers no refunds and no exchanges.
All ISC-owned tracks have a partnership with TicketGuardian that, for a cost, insures a fan’s tickets, along with any other enhancements they purchase — scanner rental, prerace pit passes, premium parking, etc. A TicketGuardian spokesperson told NBC Sports that the company is extending coverage until the newly scheduled date should the event be postponed.
Texas Motor Speedway has a policy that does not cost the fan extra. If a ticket holder is unable to attend a rained-out race on its rescheduled date, they will have the ability to redeem that ticket for a future event at equal or lesser value for up to one calendar year. That policy has been in place since 2013.
The wunderground.com forecast for Sunday shows a 0 percent chance of rain in Texas, so there’s no worry of that race being rescheduled.
But the Texas policy was used in 2014 when the April Cup race was postponed a day by rain.
That is one of 11 Cup races to have been rescheduled since 2013 (a span of 186 races). That equates to a rescheduled race 5.9 percent of the time.
Eight of the 23 tracks that host a Cup race have had at least one rescheduled race since 2013. Charlotte, Bristol and Pocono have each had two Cup races rescheduled since then.
Pocono Raceway saw both its Cup races and its IndyCar race in 2016 postponed a day by rain. The track responded with what it calls the Worry-Free Weather Guarantee. It debuted in 2017 and is in place again this year.
The guarantee provides a money-back option for fans if they cannot make the rescheduled race provided they purchased an advance ticket directly from Pocono Raceway.
The only other Cup track with something comparable is Atlanta Motor Speedway with its Perfect Race Weather Guarantee.
That policy states that if the maximum high temperature for either its Saturday races or Sunday Cup race fails to reach at least 50 degrees, or if the event is postponed and a fan cannot attend on the makeup date (and has not had their ticket scanned), they can request credit for their tickets.
It is easy to suggest that every track should have a policy to provide credit or a ticket exchange for those who can’t attend a rescheduled race. The reality is each track is a business — and many are owned by publicly traded companies that must answer to shareholders.
The impact of 10,000 fans or more wanting a refund or to exchange tickets to a future race could create some financial challenges for tracks.
Yet, for a sport that espouses the benefits of going to a race — the sights, sounds and smells — having fans unable to attend a rescheduled race or recoup what they paid could cost a track a future customer.
Is there a better way to do business?
2. Future Cup schedule
The announcement of the 2019 Cup schedule this week drew little notice except for those complaining about not seeing any changes with it.
NASCAR entered five-year agreements with tracks before the 2016 season. That goes through the 2020 season. It is the 2021 season that could see a significant shake-up in tracks and be the time for NASCAR to possibly make significant changes.
3. Playoff Preview
This weekend starts a stretch where five of the next six Cup races will be held on tracks hosting playoff races. Those tracks are Texas, Richmond, Talladega, Dover and Kansas
After Kansas, which is May 12, the only other track the series will visit that hosts a playoff race is Charlotte Motor Speedway. But Charlotte’s playoff race will be on the roval, the combination road course/oval track. That will be the first time the NASCAR has run on that course.
4. NASCAR on NBC Podcast
If you’re not a subscriber to the NASCAR on NBC podcast with Nate Ryan, take the time to do so and check out many of the episodes. This week featured an informative two-part podcast with Brad Keselowski.
There’s still time to sign up in the NASCAR America Fantasy League and compete against NBC’s broadcasters and writers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty, Rick Allen and others.
You can join the league by going here.