Crafting NASCAR Schedules a Meticulous Balancing Actby Kyle Pokrefky May 6, 2016 0 comments
KANSAS CITY – There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to generating schedules for a major sport, and that is no different when it comes to NASCAR.
NASCAR officially rolled out its schedules for all three of its national series at Kansas Speedway on Thursday; a bit unusual when compared to previous years considering the fact schedule reveals generally took place in autumn.
With the help of sanctioning agreements put into place last year between NASCAR and the tracks on its national circuit, the sanctioning body is now able to roll out schedules much earlier into the year. With its agreements, each series’s respective races at the tracks currently on their respective schedules will remain on said schedules through the 2020 race season.
Speaking at Kansas Speedway on Thursday, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, Jim Cassidy, spoke at length about the process involved with crafting the sport’s schedule and gave props to his team on being able to release next year’s schedule so early.
“It’s really hard to sum up, but I will say that, first of all, kind of backing up, that we’re sitting here on May 5th talking about 2017 is a big deal,” Cassidy said. “We talk a lot about collaboration across the industry – it’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s another thing to bring forth the results of that good work across the board.”
If there’s one keyword when it comes to piecing together the schedule for the Sprint Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, it’s definitely ‘collaboration.’
“It takes everybody,” he continued. “It’s everybody providing inputs across the fanbase, across all of our stakeholders – teams, tracks, fans, partners, broadcast partners – everybody has an input on the schedule.
“To get to the final product is a pretty complex set of moves that has to take place.”
There is a lot of balance involved with creating a schedule. Cassidy’s team not only has to manage the needs and considerations of the tracks themselves, but also the needs of the teams, its sponsor partners and the networks that broadcast the races across the nation in mind as well.
During his media presser at Kansas, Cassidy revealed that even the drivers have had a bit of a say in the scheduling as well.
With a greater dialogue being opened up between NASCAR and its competitors in recent times (NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France sat in on a driver’s council meeting one week ago), their say in the schedule shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“The drivers have input as well and everybody knows we’ve been talking – we met with the drivers last week,” Cassidy said. “We’re meeting them on a more scheduled basis, on a more structured basis. Certainly the feedback coming from them includes conversation around everything – including the schedule.
“That’s a good thing about the councils that we have, they’re structured and there’s certainly some consistent themes across them and those include schedule, among other things.”
All in all, the early schedule release through the collaboration with NASCAR’s partners helps the sports on multiple fronts.
Not only does each individual track get a head start in planning and promoting its events for next year, but it also helps fans plan out their travel schedules for next season.
“I’d say there’s no shortage of advantages and I wouldn’t tie it strictly to marketing,” Cassidy stated. “I don’t think there’s anybody in this group or in the garage or in the stands this weekend that all of a sudden isn’t going to be paying attention to what their 2017 looks like versus coming out with it in the fall.
“It’s just a great opportunity to see what your next year looks like. That’s a big deal for all of us. Right now, we’re focused on a successful weekend here at Kansas and a successful fall weekend, but at the same time, instead of spending months negotiating an annual contract and going back and forth on a schedule.
“That first part of it is in the books for the next five years and it makes the scheduling conversation a lot easier and lets us turn towards planning.”
Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images