WEAVER: Why so little rest for weary crews?

WEAVER: Why so little rest for weary crews?

Cup Series

WEAVER: Why so little rest for weary crews?

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has one of the most grueling schedules in motorsports, and its teams could use a bit of a reprieve.

Or at least, that was the stance Denny Hamlin took over the weekend when the Sprint Cup drivers council convened at Daytona International Speedway for a regularly scheduled meeting. The schedule was just one of many items on the docket, but it’s one that Hamlin especially wants the sanctioning body to examine in future seasons.

“Just on a personal level, [I’d like to bring up] why we’re here for three days,” Hamlin said of the Daytona event schedule. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Practice for speedway racing is very limited. I know it’s tough for the racetracks because they want to have people here as much as possible, but literally on Thursday there isn’t a lot of people out there watching practice.

“We could do it on Friday and qualify later in the day and be done and it becomes one extra day for these crew guys to sleep in their own beds. I mean, this is a holiday weekend somewhat, so let’s get these crew guys back home in a timely fashion, I’d say.”

Social media immediately reacted with retorts like “so screw the fans,” and “millionaires want to work less – go figure,” but Hamlin’s suggestion wasn’t so much about the drivers as it was about the entire team – the men and women who rarely see their homes and families from February to November.

The series was out in California two weeks ago for Sonoma, took red-eye flight back to North Carolina and were only at the shop for two days before hitting the road again for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. To his point, the stands are usually bare for Thursday practice at Daytona, and teams only tend to use one of the two sessions because they don’t want to destroy their best car in a practice crash.

The gamut continues this weekend; while the sport will enjoy the Fourth of July holiday, the teams immediately turn back around for another extended race weekend from Wednesday to Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

The Sprint Cup Series has a 38-event schedule that spans 10 months and only three off weekends. The series itself has made great strides toward alleviating the rigors of the itinerary, with recent realignments creating the convenient West Coast swing that lumped Phoenix, Las Vegas and Auto Club Speedway as consecutive spring events.

But other issues remain.

A case has been made in the garage that Daytona Speedweeks could be consolidated a little while the All-Star Race could be transformed into a mid-week affair, turning its current date into an off-weekend leading up to the exhibition event and Coca-Cola 600, respectively.

The NASCAR schedule is largely set in stone thanks to the new five-year sanctioning agreement signed by the sanctioning body and member tracks. So while a complete overhaul is both impossible and unnecessary, several weekends could be shortened by a day.

With the longest schedule in professional motorsports, the crew guys at the highest level of the sport deserve it.

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