Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday November 9, 2012
Eight weeks into the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup and amidst flip-flops in points and favorites, one thing has remained constant: TV ratings. And the numbers aren’t pretty. In seven of the last eight races, ratings have been down over 2011 by a significant margin.
To be fair, ratings fell in several races this year, but early on, the differences were by 100,000 viewers or so if they were lower. Now, the split is much wider, up to a million fewer people watching, and despite signing a fat contract with FOX, NASCAR should be worried-they haven’t re-upped with either TNT or ESPN for an extension, nor have they signed anything with a different network…and the more the numbers freefall, the more the value of a contract stagnates.
There are a couple of questions to ask here. First, why the drop now, in what should be the most exciting part of the sport’s season? And what can NASCAR do about it?
There are a few possible reasons for the plunge. The first, of course, is the Chase itself. NASCAR’s “playoff” format has never been popular among a great number of the sport’s fans. When NASCAR’s official website ran a poll asking whether fans liked the format, more than three-quarters responded in the negative. Fans never saw the need for a system that mimics stick and ball sports because NASCAR itself doesn’t resemble them. So it’s entirely possible that the system itself is to blame. But that’s not the only possibility.
Could it be, as some fans have suggested, that trying to compete with the powerhouse NFL is taking viewers away from the races? Perhaps. If people are disgruntled by the on-track product, it’s certainly possible that they would switch to the gridiron, where there is action on every play. It’s also possible that many casual fans simply prefer football and watch NASCAR as a diversion to fill the void between the Super Bowl and the season-opening kickoff. But if that were the main cause, it doesn’t explain the fall in ratings for the Saturday night race in Charlotte. While that race dropped less than some others and football could be playing a role, it’s unlikely to be the only cause.
There’s also the possibility that fans simply don’t like ESPN’s coverage of the races. What makes that alone difficult to believe is the fact that four of the five races leading up to the Chase, ratings were actually up over last year for the network. It could be the Chase race broadcasts themselves. There have been complaints from fans that drivers not in the Chase don’t get any coverage during those races, even while running well, and that could certainly drive away the fans of those drivers not shown, resulting in the lower Chase numbers.
One more explanation could be that it’s not the Chase itself, but rather the principal players-a lot of fans are tired of Jimmie Johnson being the perennial winner after five straight titles. And now, after a one-year absence, Johnson is back on top of the points with two races remaining. But Johnson hasn’t had the points lead for the entire Chase nor does he have a comfortable lead now. Brad Keselowski is within striking distance, and is a very different off-track personality than Johnson, who is often considered too vanilla to be likeable. So it should stand to reason that fans would tune in in hopes that Keselowski could take Johnson down in his own game this time. Last year’s numbers, fueled by a Tony Stewart-Carl Edwards title fight, were up slightly over 2010. But 2011’s ratings were lower than 2009’s numbers during a Johnson championship.
It seems, then, that there isn’t a single cause to the problem. And if the cause should dictate the solution, it stands to reason that there should be multiple solutions. There isn’t much NASCAR can do about Johnson’s dominance except wait for it to reach its natural conclusion, which, like the dominance of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon before, it will. NASCAR can’t do much about the content of the television broadcasts either, but ESPN can, and it seems like with the floor dropping out, should. While the championship battle is important, it’s not the only thing to talk about for several hundred miles of racing. ESPN needs to diversify the content, covering whichever drivers and teams are having great runs both before and after the race whether they’re in the Chase or not. Otherwise, what is the incentive to watch if you aren’t a fan of Johnson or Keselowski and you aren’t going to see the drivers you are interested in?
But you would think that if the network was willing to make this type of change, it would have done so already. Why would they allow viewership—and the value of advertisers’ time—to drop if they thought this was a solution. Clearly, ESPN isn’t interested in stories that don’t involve the Chase and the drivers in it.
There’s no easy answer for the NFL problem either, except for one thing that NASCAR did in 2011 that they didn’t do before that and haven’t done consistently this year: move the start times back to shortly after 1PM Eastern. The races last year with that consistent, early time did do better with the fans. It’s also been suggested that all Chase races be run on Saturday nights at tracks with lights, but I’m against that as a solution. While it would eliminate the NFL overlap, it would also eliminate four unique tracks in the Chase: the flat mile at New Hampshire, Dover’s high-banked mile, Talladega Superspeeday, and the only short track in the Chase at Martinsville.
Making that change would mean at least one more 1.5 or 2-mile oval in the Chase. There are already five of those in the Chase and fans have been vocal about not liking that already. But to run all the races at night would necessitate it. The four tracks without lights have various reasons for not having them, like the noise ordinance in New Hampshire that precludes night racing. Martinsville and Bristol could possibly be interchangeable, at least in that both are short tracks. Richmond is unlikely to give up its status as the final race before the Chase even for a playoff date.
Even if Daytona would give up its traditional Fourth of July date for a swap with Talladega, poor attendance at Talladega on a July Sunday afternoon in sweltering summer heat is one reason that track’s race dates are in spring and fall. Darlington could possibly be swapped with Dover or New Hampshire, but if all three of those switches could happen, that still leaves one date that could only be replaced by a sixth cookie-cutter…a move that is unlikely to boost ratings in the long run.
Which brings the whole conversation back to the Chase itself. Is it the problem? It could be. Many fans have seen the format as nothing more than a cheap gimmick to make the sport more exciting than it is on its own, and worse, they feel that the champions it has produced are less worthy of that title, or would not have won, under the old format. Add to that they are seeing points races that are exciting and close in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series without the Chase format, and feel that NASCAR is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
The solution looks tantalizingly simple—remove the format and you remove the thing that is driving away the fans. But it isn’t an easy decision nor one that should be taken lightly. In order to drop the Chase format, NASCAR would have to convince title sponsor Sprint that the last nine years have been nothing but a terrible mistake. They would also have to admit that to themselves. And what if it didn’t work? What if the traditionalist fans who left the sport over it don’t come back? What if the casual fans prefer football no matter what NASCAR does now that the NASCAR fad is over? What if Jimmie Johnson wins a bunch of titles anyway? What if the ratings continue to fall? Then what? NASCAR is left with nine years of statistics that some people feel don’t count and an audience that is still not watching.
The final answer is two-fold and difficult. First, NASCAR has to find a way to give fans a compelling reason to watch every week, and that means improving the week-to-week product through changing the cars or reorganizing the schedule. It can be done, but it won’t be easy. Also, through doing the above plus celebrating the sport’s past, it needs to shift its thinking. Instead of attracting more casual fans, a market that may be tapped out, NASCAR should concentrate on making the fans who are still watching transition from casual to passionate. The passionate fans are the ones who will bring their children into the sport, and attracting the next generation is critical to the sport’s long-term health.
But, in the end, that’s the long-term solution. Instead of a huge, casual fan base, NASCAR needs to concentrate on having a smaller but more passionate one. Whether that means schedule and car changes, dropping the Chase or all of that and more, it’s the key, in the end, to preserving the sport as we know it. Ratings are falling, and it’s time for more than a band-aid to stop the bleeding this time. NASCAR is in a pivotal time, one where it’s not too late to fix the problem, but where it could become terminal if not cured now. It’s no longer as simple as just cancelling the Chase or tweaking the schedule; it will take an all-out assault on identifying and changing several aspects of the sport. It can be fixed. But action must be taken soon.
Connect with Amy!
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nascar makes it too much about the driver and not enough about the car. NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. I’m old (73) and sure would like to see stock car racing one more time. Nascar is going in the right direction with the new body design but,they need to go all the way and do away with coil binding, bump stops and do away with the tricked up rear ends. I’m also a FORD fan so you know I’m not a happy fan. I don’t think any of this would help Ford but it would help me enjoy racing again!!
I was fascinated to read that Nascar did a poll of ‘avid fans’, all of whom said they love the ‘chase’ format. Isn’t that rather like preaching to the choir? Shouldn’t they be polling those that, say, USED to be avid fans but are no longer? Isn’t that more likely to give them answers to their attendence/viewership problems? Yet another example of Nascar finding a way to get the answers it wants, rather than the answers it needs.
It’s the chase. Think about it. The championship is decided over ten races. Everything else is pre season. How well do you think the NFL would do if three quarters of their regular season were suddenly declared not to count and that only the last four or five games counted? Toss in the complete removal of any innovation or experimentation being allowed on what are essentially spec cars and you have a recipe for boredom. It’s only going to get worse.
First I think the whole idea that fans are consumed with the championship is a fallacy. Most really are the that interested in don’t believe.
I hate the Chase. I’ve never like it and I hope they do away with it, but I think the coverage of the races and the focus of the media and NASCAR has gotten away from the drama of each race in itself. If we have to have this awful format at least only cover it for a small portion of the time. There are still 43 cars (at least at the start) in the race and although the chase contenders usually do well, they don’t always. Concentrate on each race, cover ALL drivers doing well. Discuss strategy used by those doing well (whether chase teams or not). That’s what drew me to the sport. The other thing that I think we’ve gotten away from and part of that is because the sport became more popular was the “realness” of the folks in the sport. I enjoyed NASCAR as opposed to other sports because the personalities in the garage, the people behind the wheel, and at first the folks behind the microphone were real people. They didn’t make themselves or competitors out to be the great celebrity athletes that other sports did. They showed us some great personalities that we could relate to. Some of these changes in NASCAR and especially in the broadcast booth and the way the races are covered has taken that closeness to the people of the sport away. Take off the suit coats and ties, put the chambray shirts back on, let the team members and drivers talk like real people again and some of that will come back. (I hope)
This NASCAR season marks the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, championship contest of all time. The 1992 Winston Cup season didn’t have the Chase, but it was a nailbiter decided by a single lap! Five drivers went into the final race at Atlanta with the potential to win the title. The Chase isn’t necessary to have a great season, and 1992 is proof.
Could it be that after 34 weeks of races that the fans are burned out?
The season is 9 months long and the races are pretty much the same every week – the same 5-6 teams are always at the top. The fans just get tired of watching it so they tune out.
Shorten up the season, maybe race every other week and maybe people will still be interested come November.
Why am I not watching?
1. Boring, boring, boring racing, way too long, with little or no passing, and mostly watching drivers conserve fuel.
2. Jimmie Johson
3. The Chase is BS
4. Fake cautions and awful officiating.
I’ll continue to watch the Truck Series every weekend because the races are a reasonable length, the drivers drive every lap like they want to WIN, and there’s no Jimmie Johnson.
Give me shorter Cup races (mostly) on a better variety of interesting tracks (not twenty races on 1.5 mile crapovals), and give me racers who aren’t driving conservatively for points positions.
In the meantime, I’ll stick to V8 Supercars, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, and the Camping World Trucks.
it is the economy. i’d love to see 3 races a year in my area, but the current economics are not in my favor. and it won’t improve in the next four years with our re-elected administration. the working class is shrinking. who goes to these races? auto entusiasts and the working person. the suits and people who are jobless are not going. so this group of “intersted fan base” is getting smaller and smaller with less money to go. when the cost for electric skyrockets soon the stands will be emptier yet.
Kit cars, the chase, NA$CAR rules, are three things I hate. The season is not long, the races are not too long, if you think so watch WoO sprints, just my thoughts.
Here is my list of why NASCAR lost me as an avid fan:
Kenneth said it the best and (other than mine) his is the only other comment I have seen anywhere that suggests that there is WAY TOO MUCH emphasis placed on EVERYTHING OTHER THEN THE CARS! I mean c’mon people! Non gear head people are for the most part not interested in automotive endeavers including NASCAR. Look what has happened to all the gear head TV shows that used to follow a “how to” format. Dumbass 22 year old ADHD afflicted producers thought they needed to add fake DRAMA to the program in order to get viewership. OOPS! No viewership at all and now SPEED is going away. Anybody seen fake drama in NASCAR recently? OOPS! Declining viewship! It’s the Gear Heads that watch automotive oriented programming. Everybody else watches the other sports. BZF, FOX, ESPN and their ilk think they know better than US as to what we want to see or worse what they are going to let us see. Think about it. Why is it such a hassle to buy a new car these days? It’s because the 24 year old “salesman” is trying to sell you a car based on it’s NAV systemand not by pointing out the automotive related aspects of the car. Ask HIM some questions and you’ll likely find that he is the same guy that was selling cell phones last week! These are not car guys and NASCAR has let it’s grip on car guys slip away. TV producers are in the same boat. The head motorsports producer at FOX used to produce soccer broadcasts for God’s sake. What does he or his kind know about what a gearhead want’s to see? He doesn’t. He is going to show us a close up of the bumper in the car in front of Junior for 15 straight laps before we go to ANOTHER 5 MINUTE COMMERCIAL BREAK. Want another example? How did Chrysler turn around it’s losing ways? The company is now run for the most part by GEAR HEADS! They cleverly emphasised the actual CARS themselves over the accountants! Seriously, most of the other crap going on in NASCAR (chase, 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks, etc.)would make one bit of differnce if the emphasis was placed back on what brought NASCAR to prominence in the first place….THE CARS! It’s supposed to be about the CARS!
it is simply na$car’s mismanagement of the sport. the chase sucks. flipflopping start times suck. flipflopping which channel has the race sucks. espn’s crummy race coverage that mostly shows johnson and kes sucks. espn’s habit of following the leader for the last 3 laps when there are exciting duels for second or third or fifteenth sucks too.
I believe that true NASCAR fans are not fans of the chase. Nothing against Johnson, he has learned to play the chase system, but I think another championship by Johnson will be very bad for NASCAR. If they insist on continuing the chase it needs to change drastically. Bristol, a road course, Richmond, Darlington, need to be added and some of the 1.5 mile ovals removed. If NASCAR can’t see this then they aren’t listening to the fans. The other problem is drivers just logging laps until 25 to go. Bump up the bonus for leading the most laps back to 10 points. If this doesn’t get drivers up on the wheel and fighting for the lead, there is no hope left.
I guess I miss the Car issue from above.
I would rather drivers be the focal point and not cars. But the sport belongs to engineers and money, but not drivers. Maybe the sport has gotten too mechanical – “hit the marks” and all. If they changed the design of the cars, put the stock back in to racing, I think the drivers would have more impact on the race. There would be some separation in skill level and driving style. Fans want to follow people, not machines.
Points racing is awful. I just hate it. In no world should a fifteenth place be something good.
The Chase makes much of the rest of the season irrelevant. How many drivers are testing and not racing once they are locked in, or not, in the Chase?
Lack of risk by drivers and teams. Failure is hurts more than success helps.
Boring races – goodness are they boring. The Chase and points racing helps make the races boring, but so do the car and tracks.
Races are too long, especially when we hear the drivers talk about logging laps. That is just great to hear at home.
Try not to compete with the NFL. Try week night races. Drop a few races if you have to.
More short track races. They are the most exciting. Why not add some?
I don’t mind Johnson’s dominance. I am kind of in awe. But I do not understand how all the drivers just seem to accept it. Take him on sometimes.
The Chase races are completely non-competitive. As if the races weren’t boring enough, most drivers are afraid to touch the Chasers. That is not a formula for excitement.
The sport is in real trouble. The young demographic has no interest in the sport.
Anyway – thanks.
I, too, was amused to see the survey about the “avid fans”. I never saw any such survey and it appears with the attendance and ratings down that there avid fans are few and far between.
I’m not interested in the next 2 races. Honestly I lost interest after Kansas when I wondered to ESPN via twitter why they skipped over Gordon’s 10th place finish to talk about Hamlin finishing 13th. The response? According to ESPN – only the 2, 48 and 11 were “important”. So I guess only fans of the 2, 48 and 11 showed up at the next few races? I didn’t bother to turn the TV on – I watched football and worked outside. So now we’re effectively down to 2 drivers – maybe- but I’m not a fan of either one, so again, why should I watch?
Oh yeah, I won’t. Make the race important again, make it fun – oh wait, NASCAR, ESPN have forgotten that a sport is supposed to be fun. I’ll spend my Sunday doing something else.
And no, it’s not the economy – is it part of it? Sure people have to pick and choose where to spend their $ but it isn’t as big a part of it as France & friends would like to pretend it is.
If a man is sixty years old now, who will be buried first, he or nascar?
season is too long..start in feb end in begining of sept..you wont win against the nfl..even if jr was winning..som tracks wont have 2 dates sorry and more sat night races,ppl have things to do on sunday afternoons.
Conservative points racing on boring tracks by drivers afraid to say ANYTHING that might offend a sponsor.
And NO TEAM can catch the almighty Hendrick Machine nor do they have John Middlebrook in their back pocket.
Not every race fan is a Chevy fan.
There are several things wrong with NASCAR.
1. The Chase. Every team competes against every team every race. It is not like other sports where teams only play each other a few times a year. A playoff in NASCAR is artificial hype.
2. Competition is restrained because too many cars/teams are associated with one another. 14% of the cars in the field are Hendrick (Hendrick & Stewart). What % is Roush? Team cars don’t (or appear to not) race each other hard. They won’t risk wrecking each other. There should be one car per owner with no collusion between teams. I would rather see only 5 cars on the lead lap if they are actually close to each other and racing for the win. I don’t know how to enforce it but with their resources I’m sure NASCAR could hire enough smart people to figure it out.
3. “Open wheel” attitude. Where is the bumping, pushing, rubbing, forcing drivers out of their preferred lines, ect.? Where is the “I’d wreck my mother to win a race” attitude? Too many “drivers” and not enough “racers”.
4. Too many tracks that don’t produce close racing. I understand NASCAR wanting to race in LA instead of North Wilkesboro but why won’t they build a short track in LA that produces good racing?
5. Debris cautions. Why race hard during most of the race – the teams know that NASCAR will throw a caution so they can catch up. This makes much of the race boring.
6. Too much emphasis on points instead of individual races. The championship should be a complement to the races not the driving point of the season. Too much “big picture” racing and not enough racing for the win.
7. Lucky dog, wave around, etc. No sport should allow anyone to arbitrarily catch up.
8. Allow racing back to the yellow. Was it really so dangerous – how many drivers were hurt by this? Team racing was the only thing that made this unsafe. If someone is overly aggressive & races in situation that was not appropriate NASCAR could always park them for the rest of the race.
One more point – tight screen shots of the cars need to be eliminated. TV should show wide angle shots that give the viewers a since of speed and allow them to see the cars wiggling or getting loose. The tight shots (which I believe are to clearly show the sponsor) detract from ones ability to comprehend what is going on.
In basketball does the shot only show the center? What would a football game be like if you could only see the person with the ball? You need a wide angle view to understand what is happening.
All of the above posts are great and to the point. Couple of points left out is the COT or genaric car. It did not work for IROC and totally sucks in NA$CAR. Way too many rules. NA$CAR has spec’d the heck out of everything. What is so wrong with finding an advantage within the rules?
And as many have said the networks have killed it. After one season with DW and company I quit watching the races when FOX covered it. Have not watched a race in 10 years. Better to just read about it.
There will be 8 (major) Hendrick cars on the tracks in 2014 with Harvick joining Stewart-Hass Racing.
That’s nice. More of the same. Kinda like what happened after the election.
The reason NASCAR is so efffed up is due to stupid management. Proof is in the following…
1.)The bodies should be EXACT,STOCK, ROOF,FENDER,FASCIA DOOR,EVERYTHING PRODUCTION BODY PANELS. No deviation from stock, only factory installed or available from the dealer spoilers. That is it. Period.
2.)A Toyota using basic FORD and CHEVY design parts without EVER selling a pushrod V-8 production vehicle is an insult to anyone that knows what 10W-30 means.
3.)I concur with the comments about ‘wave-around’ and ‘lucky dog’, what a bunch of mamby-pambys! It is called RACING! Not ‘catch-up’! Ketchup is for burgers!
4.) Rules favoring a certain brand. Example: deficient Chevy cooling system… The Ford FR-9 is technically advanced in that area, so NASCAR hurts the Ford which helps the Chevies. Wonder if the fact that there is a General Motors vehicle on the Daytona 500 Trophy means anything? YuuuP! DuuuH!
5.) Thanks for the stupid transformer and idiot ground-hog characters Fox Sports. The ground-hog should have had a different name for each track… Like “Dover Don” and “Texas Tilly”. That would have been tolerable. It was not cute and endearing like the gopher in “Caddyshack”!
6.) Watch how much the ratings fall if a Toyota ever wins the championship!
7.) Before Toyota entered the Cup series, Robin Miller, who covers INDYCAR, on Wind-Tunnel said that Toyota would do what they had done in INDYCAR, upset the cost-factor of the sport by absorbing costs (they have)support acquiring engineers and staff from established teams, attracting drivers that can help the brand increase their competitiveness(Mark Martin) and championship drivers (Matt Kenseth). Is it a surprise that Lee White, head of Totoya NASCAR operation worked with both drivers while at Jack Roush’s NASCAR team? See the reality? Toyota Racing Development, TRD, Turd for short!
8.) Why do you think Carrol Shelby stayed away from NASCAR? Mario Andretti throw a Daytona 500 win? Not! Dan Gurney entered 15 races, won 6! A.J. Foyt won a Daytona 500 too, don’t you think they would compete there more if it was fair?
9.) Mark Martin goes to Hendrick, does the track recon (tire testing)and then places second for the season in ’09. Trains Gustaphson,then Papa Smurf Hendrick switches him to Gordon, team as a whole goes down! Martin goes to idiot Michael Waltrip’s team, FLASH!, its now in the chase! Surprise? Too bad Martin never went to INDY, his car control and prudent driving is a perfect fit.
10.)The utterance that a car is a “start and park” is a ‘WTF’ to the TV viewer, a total insult to the paying fan.
Well, I, and many others, were hoping Toyota would hurt the dominance of Hendrick/Chevy.
And they started too until Nascar put their foot on their LEGAL engines via restrictor plate. (Among other things Nascar did)
And now that John Middlebrook has helped good ole 5-time out earlier this season, it’s a wash.
I honestly don’t know why other manufacturers still spend the money in Nascar anymore.
If you’re gonna be in the cup series you need to be in a Chevy. And preferably a Hendrick Chevy.
i’ll sum it up as nascar has lost/sold it’s soul and it’s focus.
Compare the real message (not the self advertisements) of nascar to the nfl (yeah i know but bear me out) and you’ll see a marked difference. with the nfl, the importance of the game at hand is the ultimate message. this game is compromised of these two teams comprised of these players and is important because of this reason and here are the sub stories. with nascar tell me what is the prime message? i bet most people come away with a view that is anything but the race at hand. what comes to you mind first? the chase? the cars? the drivers? who has what sponsor this week? what the sub stories of this race are? is danica running this week? Hardly ever the race itself.. the focus is on the details (manufactured or not) hardly ever is it the event itself unless its the daytona 500.
france and helton have often referred to “the product.” i think they should figure out just what the hell they are really selling, racing or an advertising agency. if they are snake oil salesmen who are runnning a for profit privately owned advertising agency then they seem to be doing quite well. if they are running a racing sanctioning body, they look to be failing increasingly miserably.
Nascar’s problems can be brought down to one word…BORING…plain cars with plain drivers driving plain tracks with lousy coverage. Plus there was a reason the Mobile Economy Run never caught on in the 1950’s … It was BORING.
And nobody has mentioned that there was basically only 18 full time truck drivers and around 20 full time Nationwide drivers this year. With teams having to build around 15 to 20 new cars per team, how many full time Cup cars will show up? There will be a lot more start and parks next year.
There are several Nascar followers and fans in South Africa. Granted we all tend to be motorracing fans firt, it shows that Nascar can attract younger fans.
The Nascar season is not too long and neither is the races.
Nascar needs to put all the races on the same network. I do not expect us in SA to get all the races, but in their core market they should want
Nascar need to stop making money of the race teams. They can fleese the fans, the networks, the vendors, the tracks, but they need to make it affordable for new teams to enter racing. Rather than letting a team get a $60000 payout for S&P, give them the use of a (lower spec) engine for some races and subside tires. So they are still guaranteed $600000 minimu for the race, but Nascar claim back
Speaking of that, allow teams to take home tires they have purchased. Let them test with it if they so wish, but limit the amount of tires a team can purchase over the course of a season.
Fake cautions needs to go. If there is debris show it on TV – clearly. If there is no need for a caution don’t throw it. If there is just cause for a caution or red, throw it – even if it means ending the races without a checquered.
There is more, but that’s enough for now.
It is the product on the track. Fix the racing & fans will watch. The only part of the races worth watching is the last 80 laps. There is almost no excitement that occurs in the first 60 – 75% of most races. Take away the aero dependancy & put it back on mechanical. Get Goodyear to bring a softer tire that gives up 4 or 5 seconds a lap over the course of a run. If drivers can pass each other, it makes it exciting. Sure there are many, many other tweaks that can be made as far as the broadcast and rules etc… but the biggest thing that is keeping fans away from the track & the TV is the product itself. As it stands, the product just isn’t very good. NASCAR has a HUGE opportunity to fix it with the 2013 car – however, I’m hearing that the 2012 chasis can be modified to fit the 2013 template. Here’s hoping NASCAR has gone far enough with the new car to take the dependance off of aero & that Goodyear has figured out a way to have a soft tire that gives up, but won’t blow out.
With the decline in ratings, it’s really a death of a thousand cuts, it would take me hours to review all the ways the sport has been mismanaged.
But a big problem is the Chase. Instead of every race all year being meaningful in the championship, now it’s only ten. How can that be a good thing? It was a greedy move by executives who weren’t happy with, what we now know, were actually quite good ratings!
The Chase points format is simply frustrating for most fans, as one DNF or crash (often now their own doing) will effectively take their driver out of Chase contention.
It does not produce worthy champions. Tony Stewart winning the title in 2011 was a joke. Gordon was certainly the superior driver in one of Johnson’s championship seasons. The playoffs format does not fit the sport at all. The playoff races are no different than the others. Johnson, Stewart, or whoever performing better in the ten races that happen to be at the end of the schedule (and are NOT a proper cross-section of NASCAR tracks) does not make them more deserving than the driver that earned the most points in the entire season!
Recent articles from Amy Henderson:
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.