The Nextel Cup drivers will be in Bristol, Tenn., Saturday night, the fifth Saturday night Cup race this year – not including the All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May. There are two more Saturday night races on the Cup schedule, making seven for the year. Considering the success of the races from a TV ratings standpoint, more Saturday night races can be expected in the future. By holding Saturday night Cup races, some NASCAR fans are opting to stay home and watch on TV, Southwell said. He’s even tempted to watch Saturday night Cup races instead of going to the track to watch live racing. Great for ratings and the Cup drivers and teams. Not so great for short tracks like Irwindale Speedway. “The whole thing is just a negative,” said Phipps, another NASCAR Super Late Model driver at Irwindale Speedway. “A downward spiral is what it feels like to me. It’s not positive. But it seems to me when there’s a Cup race, there’s a lot of empty seats out there.” Irwindale Speedway track officials do not release attendance figures, but they do admit they need an alternate strategy when the Cup drivers race on Saturdays. In addition to drifting, Irwindale Speedway has scheduled monster trucks, moto cross and demolition derbies when the Cup drivers race on Saturday nights. “I think we have to keep in mind what’s going on at the local- and short-track level and keep them in mind and try not to affect them,” Gordon said. “But I would assume that if you’re a short track and you do Saturday night events around a Nextel Cup event around that area, you might want to consider moving your times and dates around just for that particular weekend.” That’s not really an option for Irwindale Speedway, but offering other forms of racing is. Phipps said NASCAR is being short-sighted in its approach to draw higher TV ratings and attract new fans. “They’re not looking at the future,” said Phipps, who lives in Simi Valley. “They’re looking at the here and now.” Southwell said if more Cup races are scheduled on Saturday nights, it’s going to destroy the sport. “Their minor leagues are going to kind of sit there and rot on the vine basically,” said Southwell, a Canyon High of Canyon Country graduate. “They’re kind of killing their own young to survive right now.” Tim Haddock covers motor sports for the Daily News. He can be reached at (818) 713-3715 or [email protected] NASCAR NEXTEL CUP SERIES Sharpie 500 Site: Bristol, Tenn. Schedule: Friday, qualifying (TNT, 3 p.m.); Saturday, race (TNT, 4:30 p.m.). Track: Bristol Motor Speedway (oval, .533 miles, 36 degrees banking in turns). Race distance: 266.5 miles, 500 laps. Next race: California 500, Sept. 4, Fontana. On the Net: www.nascar.com NASCAR BUSCH SERIES Food City 250 Site: Bristol, Tenn. Schedule: Friday, qualifying (Speed Channel, 1:30 p.m.); race (TNT, 5 p.m.). Track: Bristol Motor Speedway (oval, .533 miles, 36 degrees banking in turns). Race distance: 133.25 miles, 250 laps. Next race: Busch Series 300, Sept. 3, Fontana. INDY RACING LEAGUE Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix Site: Sonoma, Calif. Schedule: Saturday, qualifying, 12:30 p.m.; Sunday, race (ESPN, 1:45 p.m.). Track: Infineon Raceway (road course, 2.26 miles, 12 turns). Race distance: 184 miles, 80 laps. Next event: Delphi Indy 300, Sept. 11, Joliet, Ill. On the Net: www.indyracingleague.com CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES Molson Montreal Indy Site: Montreal Schedule: Friday, qualifying, 11 a.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 11 a.m.; Sunday, race (NBC, 1:45 p.m.). Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (road course, 2.709 miles, 15 turns). Race distance: 186.921 miles, 69 laps. Next race: Las Vegas, Sept. 24. On the Net: www.cart.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 TV ratings are up and Cup drivers have a fondness for racing under the lights on a Saturday night. “It’s important to have people in the stands supporting racing, including local track racing, and you know, it’s tough because from where I’m at on the Cup side, I love the Saturday night races,” said Gordon. “It’s great for our schedule. The fans seem to like it. The sponsors seem to like it. So it’s a big, big plus in my opinion for what we do.” Meanwhile, Irwindale Speedway will be having the Formula D Drift 2005 Championship finale. Irwindale Speedway NASCAR drivers Todd Southwell and Andrew Phipps are not big fans of Saturday night Cup races. They see the Saturday showcases as uprooting the NASCAR fan base and discouraging potential drivers from developing their skills. “They’re basically eating their young,” said Southwell, a NASCAR Super Late Model driver at Irwindale Speedway. “The short track fans and drivers are their offspring. That’s what builds the whole fan base. That’s what builds the driver base – everything.” When Jeff Gordon was younger and working his way up the auto-racing ranks, he would race Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes he would race every day of the week. The packed racing schedule didn’t bother Gordon, but with more NASCAR Nextel Cup races running on Saturday nights, some Los Angeles area short-track drivers, unlike Gordon, are a little annoyed, and are noticing a negative effect on attendance at their hometown tracks.