2008 Cup schedule? Yawn ...

September, 26, 2007

If you were expecting big changes in the 2008 Sprint Cup schedule, get ready for a disappointment.

I know what you're thinking and hoping. California will lose a date. Darlington will get Labor Day weekend back. Las Vegas might get a second race.

No, nunca, nada.

Aside from moving an early open weekend and a night race in Chicago, the '08 schedule is almost identical to 2007.

In a word: Boring. A change or two would create a buzz heading into the next season. It generates media attention and gets people talking.

But we're in a holding pattern on the Cup schedule. NASCAR's realignment plan appears to be at a standstill until another new track is built somewhere -- New York, Seattle, Denver, etc.

We're talking at least five years away for any of those to happen. For now, the schedule is what it is.

The open dates in the spring are March 23 and April 20. Why have two open dates a month apart?

The first one is Easter Sunday. That weekend falls between the Cup dates at Bristol on March 16 and Martinsville on March 30.

The turnaround between Bristol and Martinsville is one of the easier of the season for the Cup teams. Those tracks are a two-hour drive from most Cup shops, and they're 130 miles apart.

NASCAR never races on Easter, but it would have made more sense to have the Easter break come between Las Vegas and Atlanta when the teams have to take the haulers across the country.

The second open date comes between Phoenix on April 12 and Talladega on April 27, which isn't a bad idea, but one spring open date should move to the fall.

One other change has the Chicagoland Speedway event moving to Saturday night. The facility is adding lights so the Busch and Cup races can run at night. The Cup race is July 12.

The teams get a weekend off before the Allstate 400 at Indy, then it's 17 consecutive weekends of racing until the end.

NASCAR almost got burned with that situation this year when rain forced the August Michigan race to run on Tuesday. One more day of rain would have caused NASCAR to end the season at Michigan in November.

An off weekend before the start of the Chase instead of two breaks in the spring would give NASCAR a little insurance on rainouts, and it would give the crews a much-needed break before the playoff.

But 2008 is the same old thing. Not that it's bad, it just isn't real exciting.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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