ATLANTA - Saturday night's Charter 250 at Gateway International Raceway is unique for the NASCAR Busch Series because practice, qualifying and the race all happen on the same day.
While it makes for a long day - the race starts at 7:30 p.m. (FX) - it reduces the time race teams are on the road, which reduces costs. Before NASCAR moved to its modern era in 1972, it was common for the entire race program to be conducted in a single day. That allowed the sport to travel from town-to-town on the weekends.
Several years ago NASCAR drivers qualified Thursday, practiced Friday and Saturday and raced Sunday. In a cost-cutting move, NASCAR pushed qualifying back to Friday to reduce the amount of time on the road by one day. Saturday's race now begs the question: Could it be cut back again?
"I think it's very possible to have a one-day race schedule, but I wouldn't want to do it just to allow more races in the week," said Jeff Green, a driver on the Nextel Cup Series. "That's too much. But to run a one-day show at some of the tracks close to everyone's home and team's home in North Carolina or Virginia, that's a great idea. Let's just not sacrifice our teams for another race."
As NASCAR tries to find room in its schedule for additional venues, some wonder if the sport is ready for a couple mid-week races.
DOING DOUBLE DUTY: With the Nextel Cup Series off this week for Mother's Day, only six Nextel Cup drivers are scheduled to race in Saturday's Busch Series race at Madison, Ill. Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, Johnny Sauter, Robby Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Derrike Cope all will work during the off-week.
NASCAR RULES: Three crew chiefs were fined for violations at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago. Ted Brown, crew chief for Morgan Shepherd, was fined $2,000 after a member of the crew, Scott Cianci, entered pit road during a pit stop without a helmet. Under NASCAR rules, the crew chief assumes responsibility of the car and his crew. Mike Ford, who works on Dale Jarrett's car, and Terry Wooten, who is part of Kenny Wallace's team, were fined $1,000 each for an unapproved underpan.
NEW FORMULA: Change is coming to Formula One to make under-financed teams more competitive. Formula One approved changes this week that might ban the use of backup cars next year and the use of a single tire manufacturer in 2006. Also approved is the use of standard brakes and the reduction of engine power.