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via Getty

via Getty

Rain delays have been a part and parcel of NASCAR recently. The clouds showered down on several races on a consecutive streak, muddling the drivers’ meticulous plans. But as it turns out, Mother Nature is not the only one to play spoilsport with the team clocks. NASCAR makes it difficult as well, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared recently.

Drivers can set their alarm clocks only after checking the schedule every weekend. This can be taxing, as they already have a lot on their plate—planning a pit strategy or looking out for rowdy weather. Hence, NASCAR may score less than another sport in this regard, as Dale Jr. believes.

What NASCAR rule boggled Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

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Wildly jumbled-up race timing has emerged recently. Inclement weather dragged out both the Nashville race and the Chicago Street Race. Then five overtimes, the longest in NASCAR history, affected the Ally 400 race, spelling significant chaos for drivers. Then Tyler Reddick bashed the stage breaks in Chicago. But even though the timing is already impacted, executives make it a little more confusing on their part.

And that is what gets on the nerves of Dale Earnhardt Jr. In the Dale Jr. Download episode that aired on July 9th late in the evening, Junior explained the mind-boggling scenario. Drivers need to check when their races begin every week: “Having to go and look and check on the app…oh damn, this one’s 2:30, next week’s three, then the next week’s it’s 3:30…I don’t know why that is, why the little discrepancy’s there.”

Instead, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is all in for a fixed schedule. “Feels like wherever you need to live, you need to live it hard, right? If you’re gonna be a 3 o’clock start, be a 3 o’clock start across the board.” 

Since the NFL strictly follows a consistent time schedule, Dale Jr. favors that sport more in this regard. “That’s what I liked about the NFL – I know when the games start. I don’t have to think about it, I don’t have to look it up… 1 o’clock or 2:30. That’s when they start, all of them. There’s a batch that’s gonna go off at one, a batch that’s gonna go off at 4. That makes it so easy.”

With Amazon and TNT taking over next year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expecting to see a revamped time schedule. “I don’t know whether Amazon or anybody would move away from the start time or the mid-afternoon start time. But what I would love to see it is get more streamlined to where like, hey! Every race is going to start (unless it’s a night race) at X time…just to make it a little more easier to understand.”

A weekly post time between noon and 1 PM would help avoid late afternoon storms. Also, East Coast fans who run through dinner time and into the evening would also benefit. Hence, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s suggestion would help drivers and fans alike. As it turns out, this issue was raised over a decade ago as well.

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Currently, Kyle Busch seems to be in a slump with no glory in sight. Although he does not comment on NASCAR’s schedule now, he had a problem with it earlier in his prime. The inconsistent schedule interfered with his passion. Back in 2009, there were 12 different start times—half started at 2; the rest ranged from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tracks generally set the time, but most of the time, television networks assisted them.

The resulting confusion also led Busch to compare NASCAR with the NFL. “It’s very easy to recognize what time NFL games start – it’s 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock. We know that you look down the list of the 1 o’clock games; you look down the list of the 4 o’clock games and find out who you want to watch.”

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Busch emphasized that drivers are left puzzled most of the time. “The NASCAR races you always have to find the TV program or you have to find something you can look at to find out what time the races are going to start, or you’re all confused.”

Evidently, over a decade has passed, and NASCAR still has not solved the issue. Hopefully, more drivers will chip in and make executives take heed of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s suggestion.