Dale Earnhardt Jr. has joined the growing chorus calling for a reduction in the length of certain NASCAR Sprint Cup races. Speaking during a Sprint Media Tour visit to his Hendrick Motorsports team's headquarters, Earnhardt said he reckoned most Cup races could be shortened, and singled out the two 500-mile events at Pocono Raceway in particular.
"The Pocono races are entirely too long," Earnhardt said. "I think NASCAR should shoot for a three-hour or three-hour and 15-minute televised event, and try to fit into that sort of time frame. It can't be done at all times, I understand. I think you've got to have races like the 600-miler [Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte] and the Daytona 500 and things like that – but there are certain events [that should be shortened]."
Earnhardt added that he believes NASCAR made a mistake when it added distance to last year's spring race at Phoenix, expanding it from 312 laps to 378. The track's fall Phoenix race remained a 312-lap event.
"Phoenix was a good race. Adding that little bit to it didn't make it better, it only made it longer," Earnhardt said. "It only made it tougher to watch, tougher to witness. The 300 laps at New Hampshire is the perfect distance.
"Then you go to Pocono, and it's entirely too long, obviously. It's an obvious, glaring issue with everyone who's there – but it's like this huge, pink elephant that nobody wants to talk about. Maybe there was some kind of a guarantee or promise made in the deal years ago, and it's something they won't change. We'll see how it goes."
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France noted that several Sprint Cup races have been shortened already, and indicated more adjustments could be forthcoming.
"There will be alterations as we go down the road to shorten [races] up by a little bit. No expectations from us to make any drastic changes – 100 miles changes the complexion of a race, depending where you are, for sure. And we're going to continue to look at that. And we'll look at the Nationwide events where we want to have good separation between a Sunday and Saturday show. We'll be looking at the length of Nationwide events as we go down the road."