Thursday, January 27, 2011

Start times pushed back for Sunday Chase races

The 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup field. ( Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In the wake of falling ratings and competition from the NFL, NASCAR will push back the start times for the Sunday races in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup, according to a report on SceneDaily.com.

The new start times for the races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover, Kansas, Talladega and Martinsville will be at 2 p.m. ET, while the races at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami will start at 3 p.m. ET. Charlotte is a Saturday night race.

In 2010, six of the 10 races in NASCAR's playoffs started at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, which conflicted with the kickoff times for the early afternoon NFL games. The NFL has the highest ratings of any televised sports.

Last year was the first that ESPN broadcast the nine Sunday races in the Chase, which were previously carried by ABC. The ratings for those nine races were down at least 15 percent from the previous year. Overall ratings fell by more than 20 percent for seven races.

ESPN will remain the home of the nine Sunday races in the Chase for 2011.

In a move said to satisfy its fans, NASCAR implemented consistent start times for the race broadcasts in 2010, promoting the "1-3-7:30" logo throughout the season. Sunday races at East Coast tracks started at 1 p.m. ET and those at West Coast tracks began at 3 p.m. ET, with Saturday races starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The "1-3-7:30" start times are expected to remain the same for the 2011 regular season races.

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