Kevin Harvick glad to see evolving Cup schedule, but wants more changes
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - If Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts a Cup race on its infield road course just once it would be worth it to Kevin Harvick.
For Harvick, the buzz around the Sept. 30 event is an example of what good can come from experimenting with the 36-race Cup schedule.
“If we don’t ever run it again, think about all the conversation that it has created,” Harvick said Tuesday at the NASCAR Media Tour. “If you did it every year, it would just be another race. Those are the types of things that we need to create. We need to create events and moments.”
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has been one of the most outspoken drivers in recent years regarding a desire for NASCAR to shake up its schedules, including a return to short tracks in the Truck Series.
In 2015, Harvick said 90 percent of tracks that host Cup events should only have one race a year. A few months later he advocated moving Saturday night races to Sunday afternoons and said Iowa Speedway should be given a Cup race.
Harvick expressed approval of changes NASCAR has made this year, including the swapping of race dates.
“You see Richmond in the playoffs (Sept. 22) and Indy in a date (Sept. 9) where the fans can sit in the stands and not burn their rear ends off,” Harvick said.
Another change is Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosting two Cup races, including the playoff opener on Sept. 16. The second race date was moved from New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Both tracks are owned by Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
“Going to Vegas to kickoff the playoffs is a good move from a market standpoint,” Harvick said. “It is a great race track but the market itself is something you have to pay attention to.”
According to Accuweather.com, the average temperature in Las Vegas on Sept. 16 is 93 degrees.
Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion, also expressed his desire for a rotation of the championship race.
The Cup season has ended at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval, since 2002.
“I think it gets stale,” Harvick said. “It is a great race track but it isn’t all about the race track. It is about the event. How many times have you had a crappy Super Bowl but everybody goes to the Super Bowl because it is an event. That is what we need to create.”
The swapping of race dates and the creation of the Charlotte road course have occurred while NASCAR is in the middle of a five-year sanctioning agreement with tracks. The agreement ends in 2020.
Harvick presented other ideas for getting tracks more attention and creating unique events, including the prospect of a wild card race.
He also believes tracks should be able to lease their race dates to other tracks, especially when they’re undergoing renovations.
“You renovate your race track, then you have the right to take your date and lease it to someone else during the renovation process so that you can go try new markets and you can go have a unique event,” Harvick said. “Then that gives that particular race track a grace period to get all the work done and not have a race so they can keep working and get the renovations done in a shorter amount of time. That allows you to keep the race tracks renovated and still make money off their race by working a deal out with another race track with their sanctioning agreement.”