Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage isn't sure what to think of NASCAR's announcement Wednesday of earlier, uniform start times in 2010.
NASCAR, citing research that said fans wanted the green flag dropped sooner, is moving 28 race times earlier in the day next season. The Daytona 500 is one of those, with the race revving up at noon Dallas time on Feb. 14, the earliest it's started since 2003. The change also impacts the Samsung 500 in April and the Dickies 500 in November at TMS, both of which will start at noon locally in 2010.
"In my mind the jury is out," Gossage said. "I'm curious what the fans think about it. I do think consistent start times for the sake of the TV audience is good so the fans know when to turn on the television and where to go and what time to look for it. But I'd like to have the Dickies 500 end in the dark in the fall. There are other ways to consider how to accomplish that. Maybe we talk about a night race in the future."
The Dickies 500, which is Nov. 8, is scheduled to start shortly after 2 p.m. local time. That means the race will end just as darkness falls, something Gossage wanted so fans got a different experience in the Fall than the Spring. The 2 p.m. start time is earlier than in the last few years, when it was dark for the final quarter of the race. But next season, the race will probably be completed before the sun even sets.
"The race will start the same time as a Cowboys game, so they have to get here earlier than they did in the past," Gossage said. "If the Cowboys can do it, we can do it."
Gossage said he isn't concerned about traffic getting into the facility even though the earlier time shortens the window to get cars funneled to parking lots around the track.
"We've made a lot of advancements on traffic and that isn't the issue it used to be," Gossage said.
The track will still open four hours before the race, but the menu for concession stands and suites may be altered a bit to have more breakfast food and coffee on hand than normal.
Richard Durrett covers motor sports for ESPNDallas.com.