At the premiere event of the year last week, NASCAR made the decision to shorten the race because the lost the track to rain. While many people complained, nothing could be done to save the race at that point. They could have done something 6 months earlier to prevent the problem, though, by starting the race at a more normal time. For the 2nd week in a row, the California race started ridiculously late after 3 pm. Rain only shortened today's race by 29 unlucky laps. The driver of the 29 Kevin Harvick also had an unlucky day crashing out for the first time in several years.
But back to the point of rain, which NASCAR will be unable to do anything about until next year. Why did today's race start after 3 pm and not at noon locally? Whether the reason is FOX wanting the race later, wanting to have the race in prime time on the East Coast, or something else, by doing such NASCAR allows a greater chance for weather shortening or postponing a race. Television ratings have been declining the last few years so if later start times have had any effect on ratings it has been a negative effect. NASCAR knew this was a problem in the 2008 season but decided against correcting the problem for 2009. Since some tickets have already been sold for every event this year, it is too late to change the start times in 2009.
I call for NASCAR to immediately announce that next year's races will start at an earlier time to give them a greater chance to wait out weather issues. Then, be consistent with that decision and start all Sunday races no later than noon locally.