New NASCAR start times pose difficult dilemma for IRL

October 8, 2009
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The Indy Racing League is already facing a difficult decision for 2010.

The IRL is expected to release its television schedule this week, but NASCAR beat them to the punch with the announcement that the stock car series is going to an earlier, uniform start time for its races. That move will put NASCAR in direct conflict with several IRL races; notably St. Pete, Long Beach, Kansas, Iowa, Edmonton and Mid-Ohio.

If the goal is to avoid NASCAR Cup races, the IRL may need to move its start times. But not everyone agrees adjusting the times is the best course of action.

Some think the IRL would be best served by planning its events to best suit the local community where it is racing, and not worry about NASCAR.

That decision would likely please local promoters partnering with the IRL.

But Versus cable channel and the series’ other broadcast partners likely don’t see it that way. They know that going head-to-head with NASCAR, while it might be better for the fans and operators at the live event, could kill TV ratings. And we all know the IRL and Versus are having plenty of difficulty building TV viewership as it is.

Promoters argue that a vibrant live event is key to a telecast that attracts viewers. Ask the National Football League about that one.

So which master will the IRL serve? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough. Which master(s) should the open-wheel series serve? That’s a matter of opinion.

  • DEATHBLOW. NASCAR just shut off the "track ticket extortion pack" deal too. That's where NASCAR ticket purchasers HAD to buy IRL tickets to get their NASCAR tix. NO more. Now this DIRECT HEAD-TO-HEAD TV competition? DEATHBLOW. Goodbye IRL, don't let the door hit you on the way out....and then the VI$ION will be complete. DEATHBLOW!
    • Just shutter the damn Leege. noone's watching anyway, Mari cut off the $$$ and Lord Tony is heading to FLA, so why even bother. Give Chip 3 trophies and Roger 5 and just end this nonsense...The IRL: Nobody cares.
      • For once, DaHooey, I think I agree with you. Not even Danica can save us now. Good thing she has NASCAR truck driving to fall back on.
      • Is NASCAR the face of American racing? Not for me. If it is, its F1 or nothing for me. NASCAR represents all of our problems... lack of inovation, demphasis of technological development, apathy. American is being "NASCARed" into the ground by a public and media that are intellectually lazy. The fans seem to be nice people. But, the future lies in new ideas, not carburetion.
      • Hey guys, didn't you get the memo from all of the Nostadamus's around here? The IRL is gone after this year or is it next year? They heard it from their cousins, nephews great uncle charlie who once swept floors for cart, or did they read it in the tea leaves. I am not sure why the IRL and Vs. are planning next year. The experts (haters) on here know the "facts".
      • The IRL can survive if it would change more of it's oval races to Saturday Nights and avoid some of the NASCAR Sunday conflicts and have continue with a balanced schedule of road and oval would be better if they partnered with Nascar on some weekends as a racing package, but they rarely have a race in a Nascar locale the same weekend...Note: Ms. Danika is not the saving grace of IRL, the racing is and should be...also, I am in favor of moving the 500 back an hour to a noon start.
      • Chief, just remember - can't blame those two issues on Tony.
      • I also agree with Railbird - to me, the IRL should NEVER conflict with NASCAR Cup series, and only if absolutely necessary should they conflict with Nationwide. It cannibalizes the TV ratings too much.
        I also agree that they should move the Indy 500 start time back to Noon - might actually allow some NASCAR guys to pull double-duty!!
      • Blame it on Tony? It's Mr. George's direct dealings with ISC/NASCAR that set the AOW and IRL on this crash course. Tony George "threw in" with NASCAR to defeat CART, NASCAR knowing all along a war between the series would kill them both, allowing itself to reap the victory in the end. We have arrived at the famous final scene. All that's needed now is for PENSKE to lose backing from MARLBORO, who, despite the TOBACCO LAWS still offers tobacco sponsorship to the PENSKE. Absence of PENSKE's tobacco sponsorship would kill attendance at EVERY IRL VENUE due to the fact they give TENS of THOUSANDS of tickets away for each EVENT. And people still don't go to IRL races. Yeah, Tony is responsible for it ALL. Think about can you sell tickets when you can get them free? How can you promote the series when it's on a backwater cable station...for the next TEN years with 0.14 ratings? Hey, ED HINTON wrote the best piece about Tony George when he was OUSTED from CEO etc... I believe HINTON was absolutely correct. Seriously, look up that article, it's very telling. DEATHBLOW.
      • What TV Rating...It cannot go any can only go up...quit worrying about King Kong.
      • They really shouldn't bother. It won't matter if they run their garbage masquerading as motorsport against the Super Bowl, the ratings and attendance will be dismal. As it should be.

        If this Belskus character knew anything about business, the 'league' would be shuttered immediately and in permanence.

        Then again, it will be fun to compare ratings of reruns of cage fights on reversus against Nascar, against the earl when it has the same slot.

        Hilarity will ensue.
      • The IRL has one vibrant, live event a year. They should stick to that one only.
      • Per Jayski's and ESPN the rumor is that Danica is asking $8,000,000 for 8 races in the Nationwide Series. That's more than the entire IRL series is worth on Versus for a season. The IRL should buy Danica and sell her as a wholly owned IMS/IRL commodity. She's bigger than the 500, CART, IRL, PENSKE and Honda all together. IMS, you let this happen. And she hasn't done a thing but stomp her feet and peel her clothes off. And you wonder why the IRL is a joke? She's bigger than AJ hisownself.
      • NASCAR is getting out the nailgun and making sure the IRL's coffin is on tight! I believe in boxing they call this a "death blow" or in video games a "finishing move", either way NASCAR is obviously try to nix the IRL in 2010!
        • Add to that: IMS holding an Open House for IMS suites?! Help Wanted Ads for people seling tickets for the IRL 497.5?! Tony turning tail and running to Florida? Yep, key metrics are up. The IRL: So bad, its making me laugh.
        • First NASCAR puts a show on versus, now they start their races at the same time as the EARL. It's obvious that NASCAR has spotted an opportunity to take the EARL out and they aren't hesitating, next year rating will be LOW very LOW!
          • That's assuming there IS a next year.....Might as well just call it the EARL, Presented by Mari George! The IRL: Getchur checkbook out Granny!
          • It's more like 500 million if you count everything. But what does clabber boy have to show for it? well he took the Indy 500 from a 9.4 T.V. rating with CART to a 3.9 T.V. rating in just 14 years. He simultaneously ruined 14 Indy 500's, scared all the sponsors away and lost all credibility for American open wheel racing. Oh and he lost his own job to boot!
            • Old School, just how did TG "ruin" 14 Indy 500's. Races were held, people came to watch, intense competition transpired, names were added to the Borg. Good names like Franchitti, De Ferran, Dixon, Hornish Jr. and Rice. Your seat, sir.
              • OSF is like most of the haters. He loves to throw rocks, but rarely can back up with facts. They love to hate. They love to say how much they cannot stand the series. They say how uninterested it is, but then they spend hours watching it, reading about it and commenting about it.
                • Shills & Haters alike...I am one of those 'hardcore' open wheel types that is becomming disinterested in the series. I attend about 3 IRL events each year, and other open wheel events around the country, and given how long I've supported it proves it's not fickle in nature. The series has immediate problems that need addressed. I know it reeks of self importance, but if you're losing fans like me, you DO have problems.

                  Let me also say this, I'm absolutely not for socialized racing where every car is the same or equal, but they need a shakeup. A new formula. The Homestead crowd was not good, the ratings are not good. You wonder why? Target & Penske win virtually every event. There are ZERO other 2009 teams that are consistent winners, not even AGR. What sponsor would want to jump into that type of environment? Sponsors want a shot at winners. Success breeds success....unless you're...well, I better not say it.

                  The formula for the cars (engines/chassis/improvements) needs to shake up every few years (that's 3 for those that don't get it). Cost prohibitive they say? Not if it keeps fans/teams guessing every year, which turns up interest, sponsorship, REVENUE, etc.

                  This is the IBJ. Many of us on here understand that your business, in most cases, is what you invest in it. If you've been involved in small business you know it's not uncommon to work for NO salary until you are in the black, and to put all or most of your profit back into the business in the early years.

                  What I believe to be the flawed logic in the IRL right now is that they treat it as an established revenue generating business. It's clearly not, it's been publicly disclosed for some time that the 'league' doesn't make money.

                  The cars need to evolve. Completely shake up development. BITE THE BULLET. Spend the 'jack' now to give people a fresh product. Why are you (IRL) making dedicated fans like me wait a decade for improvement? Why?

                  Rant postponed...I have actual work to do.
                • NASCAR won the open wheel war! NASCAR won the open wheel war!
                • Indyman.... We hate BECAUSE we loveAOW and want it BETTER. The IRL is NOT what American open wheel racing was 5, 10, 20 or even 31 years ago. It's evolved into some kind of freakish mutation of itself. WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR YOU TO SEE? We "haters" as you call us want CHANGE for the better in AOW. YOU are happy with status quo....just as sure on Memorial Day weekend the 500 will occur. Well, what if someday it doesn't? Will THAT wake you up to the damage the IRL has caused to the sport? THE IRL is a FAILURE anyway you look at it. What Tony George aimed to prevent is now on our doorstep and he's penny-less and no where to be found. AND he was going to be a NIMBLE leader.....well he sure proved it as he wasted little time running away like a scared baby. NO AOW racing is better than the IRL abomination that exists now. For the sake of what's left of a destroyed fan and sponsorship base, SELL the IRL or eliminate the brand NOW. Free tickets and undercutting the market was how the IRL got here....which totally erroded the fanbase to the point now where free tickets won't even lure fans in. THAT's trouble that fans like Indyman can't see. Tony Hulman's 1946 business plan is antiquated....the plan doesn't hold water anymore. The Hulman-George family milks that cow with 10 year old Italian cars equipped with bullet-proof Japanese engines. Smell the coffee friends, NASCAR pulling tix packs and matching up TV times is the DEATHBLOW unless something is done now.
                • Did Mindyman get his little feelers hurt again and cry to Anthony? Waa, Waa. Man up and get a set.
                • re:
                  Here's an appropriate quote by President Theodore Roosevelt for TONY GEORGE and is family to subscribe to in the coming months: ""If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." Look no further than this quote for inspiration from this point forward.
                • Brett,

                  When have I ever complained to Anthony? Sorry, you are in some fantasy world. I do not complain when you show your lack of inteligence by attempting to insult me.
                  • re:
                    Sports Business Journal is reporting 2009 TV ratings for the IRL fell 28% overall for ABC and Versus telecasts. Versus IRL ratings alone dropped 60% compared to 2008 ESPN/ESPN2 ratings. IRL managed to beat WNBA and MLS soccers games telecast on ESPN in 2009 though, but behind Tour deForce and NHL Hockey on Versus. I'm certain these are figures the IRL will claim they new about before signing on to the Versus contract. Everything's coming up roses!
                  • Intelligence
                    You insult yourself by not being able to spell properly. And you have complained many times.
                    • Wow, now Brett is the spelling police. Sorry, typos and incorrect spelling are two different issues. You do not need to attack others because they do not agree with you.

                      Sorry, the only time I have called anyone out to Anthony were flagrant violations of the rules of the blog and that is on the blog itself so others can see the issue. Sorry if that bothers you. But life is tough.
                    • wanna be tough guy
                      Flagrant violations? Did Anthony ask you to be on the lookout? Did you get picked on in grade school? Are you a volunteer fireman? Does reporting "flagrant violations" make you feel special? Do you have a "special deputy" badge?
                      • Answers to your questions in order. Yes, flagrant. He asked all of us, that is why there is a Flag Comment button at the end of every comment. No. No although I played one as a kid. Not really, but it does make for a friendlier environment. No, are you going to give me one?

                        What is ironic, is if you look at other threads and blogs that do not involve the IRL, there is not the anger, the hatred and the rudeness that there is on these. People can actually disagree, maturely and inteligently. Of course that could be because people like you do not post on the other threads. Take a look around, and see what inteligent conversation and debate looks like.
                      • The Usual
                        So their exposure increases 3-fold yet your ratings are down 60%? Only TOney GEorge and the IRL could accomplish that feat. I have an idea: Show less and it will take people longer to get sick of it and your ratings will increase.

                      • re:
                        Marlboro just decided to STOP sponsoring the IRL by ELIMINATING the free ticket giveaways that populated the grandstands at ALL IRL series race tracks. For the record, Marlboro has been propping up the IRL grandstands with up to 20,000 freebies. No NASCAR Tix extortion packs, No Marlboro freebies, TV ratings down 28%, 60% on Versus alone. Sponsors turning away from the LEEgue in droves, one potential sponsor rumored to have pulled out because he couldn't even see it final race on TV...he's a Direct TV customer. No looking good for the IRL....DEATHBLOW.
                      • The Usual
                        How many jobs did TOney GEorge help destroy?

                        Consider how big the open wheel industry was at one time and all the support that is needed to maintain that industry and all the offshoot companies that are created to take advantage of said industry. Now consider how that industry has been completely destroyed along with it many, many jobs by one spoiled brat's tantrum.

                        Do you think TOney GEorge ever gave a crap about all those jobs he helped destroy?
                      • cowards
                        Where is the title sponsor Talking Terry promised last week? When should we expect the new engines to be announced? What happened to the Brazil race? LMAO.
                      • Not that you guys can understand reason, but are you again really saying that the split is the reason for the failure of cart/ccws/owrs? I mean really. Think about it logically and then answer the question. Because the largest loss of jobs in OW came with the multiple bankruptcies of cart et al... Not to mention millions in investor dollars to the failed/borderline criminal stock offering.

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