It's about time.

Specifically, it's about start times for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. In a news conference Wednesday, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced that the sport will have uniform start times beginning in 2010.

Let me say it again. It's about time.

"NASCAR fans have been asking for earlier and more consistent start times, and we are making this change for our fans, beginning with the Daytona 500 next February," France said. "We are revisiting our sport's tradition of earlier green flags, and the added consistency will make it easier for fans to know exactly when the races are being televised. Additionally, the new start times will help track operators get fans in and out of the track earlier in the evening. Many fans heading home from the race earlier will be able to eliminate the costs of an extra travel day."

The race start times for NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2010 in the Eastern and Central regions of the country will begin at 1 p.m. ET. West Coast events will begin at 3 p.m. ET. Night races will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. (The one exception is NASCAR's longest night race, the Coca-Cola 600, which will have the same 5:45 p.m. ET start time.) Following the invocation and national anthem, the green flag will drop at approximately 15-20 minutes past the hour after each listed race start time.
It's something NASCAR fans have been screaming for, and now, NASCAR is listening. Remembering the core fan -- this is part of the sanctioning body's efforts to return to basics.


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"It's become clear to us that traditional, early Sunday afternoon, start times are favored by NASCAR fans who both attend races and watch on television," said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill. "NASCAR, perhaps more than any other sport, belongs to the generations of fans who have passed on their passion, father to son, mother to daughter, so whatever we can do to make them feel better connected to the sport they love should be done."

I come from this generation of fans Hill referred to. I can remember coming home from church Sunday mornings, having a nice family dinner and then settling in front of the television with my dad to watch the race. But in recent years, late start times have made that impossible. Worse, the start times have been inconsistent and it's been hard to keep track of when to tune in.

"This is a very positive move for our fans," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager for New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "For years, the NFL has been very successful with its standardized start times of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. You never have to guess when their games start on Sunday. I think that same template will help our sport as well."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dispatch. She can be reached at esiska@yorkdispatch.com.