Podcast: NASCAR president hears short tracks’ ‘fairly strong drumbeat’

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Not long after he was announced as NASCAR’s fifth president in September, Steve Phelps received some advice on Twitter about future changes to the sport’s schedule.

The Twitter user told Phelps, “Hey, let me help you out. More short tracks, more road courses.”

Phelps recounted the message to Nate Ryan on the latest NASCAR on NBC podcast.

“I think he gave me his address so I could send him a check,” Phelps said. “There was an expletive in there. It was all good.”

A significant portion of the episode was dedicated to potential changes to the NASCAR schedule in 2020.

Phelps, who has been with NASCAR since 2005 and came from the NFL, said “everything is on the table” from midweek races, more short tracks and moving the schedule forward on the calendar to end the season earlier.

Phelps said there’s “a fairly strong drumbeat” from NASCAR’s 25,000-member fan council for more short tracks, he added the “absolute truth” is that he has “no idea” what the schedule could morph into in two years (the 2019 Cup slate was announced in April).

“I think that there is a willingness among tracks and teams and NASCAR and our broadcast partners to look at things in a different way,” Phelps said. “I do think that the Roval opened up some eyes. I think much like what you saw around the first race at Eldora (Speedway in 2013), that first truck race on dirt … everybody was like ‘We have to have more, we have to have more dirt races.’

“I think you have to look at, ‘OK, what’s the specialness of it?’ I’m not suggesting there wouldn’t be another Roval, I’ll put that in quotes, moving forward. But I think there are changes to the schedule, there have been things that have been tossed around and around. Can you have a doubleheader weekend? Can you have a midweek race? Can you pull the schedule forward? Does it make sense to go to a street course or go to more short tracks?”

What about a doubleheader weekend with IndyCar, which will be televised exclusively by NBC Sports Group next season?

“I don’t know. Potential,” Phelps said. “I think that there’s synergy from the motorsports side from a broadcast standpoint. (NBC Sports Executive Producer) Sam Flood (said) he’s going to do a motorsports summit to try to look at some best practices and are there ways we can cross promote. I think it’s fantastic.”

During the podcast, Phelps also discusses:

— His roots as a childhood race fan in Vermont;

— How “geotargeting” fans works with increasing ticket sales;

— His approach to Twitter and how active he plans to be in his role

To listen to the NASCAR on NBC Podcast, click on the embed above, or you can download the episodes at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.