Newspaper article The Florida Times Union


Newspaper article The Florida Times Union


Article excerpt


NASCAR said "Let there be lights," and for the past three years, there has been racing under the lights at stock-car racing's most famous track.

Night racing has been popular at Daytona International Speedway since its inception at the 1998 Pepsi 400, but while it may be here to stay, it may not be an overriding, circuit-wide trend.

At least Benny Parsons hopes not.

"It's not the future," said Parsons, a long-time Winston Cup series driver and motorsports analyst for ESPN. "Television takes a bath."

Parsons was referring not specifically to races on Saturday nights, but Saturday night television ratings in general.

"All you have to do is look at the ratings," Parsons said. "Look at the ratings list at the end of each month. How many shows do you see rated in the top 20 on a Saturday night? You don't see any. That's because it's the worst television night of the week."

Winston Cup races are generally held on Sunday afternoons. While prime time appeals to NASCAR, Parsons said the effect low ratings could have on advertising offset the positives of attracting new viewers in a prime-time spot. NASCAR recently signed a $400 million television contract. Parsons said such a contract isn't likely in the future with low ratings.

"That's a date night," Parsons said. "Everybody is going out, taking the wife and going to a show, or maybe the diehards are going to the local track to see how the guys there are doing.

"All the fans and all the drivers are a lot cooler, so I'm sure it's a nice deal for them, but I'm paid by television and hope to continue to be paid by television for a long time. I think all you have to do is look at the ratings to see where the best deal is."


Geoffrey Bodine said he had no problems climbing back in the race car at Daytona following his horrific accident at the 2.5-mile raceway last February.

Bodine crashed at Daytona five months ago during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The accident left him with an assortment of broken bones, but the fact he survived the 13-flip, fiery crash remains one of the sport's biggest miracles. …

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