The Frontstretch: The Bleeding Won't Stop Until The Chase Is Gone by Kurt Smith -- Friday September 24, 2010

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The Bleeding Won't Stop Until The Chase Is Gone

Kurt Smith · Friday September 24, 2010


The Loudon race was one of the best NASCAR events we’ve seen in a long time. It had everything except a fight in turn 3, as drivers battled, shoved, and gambled from start to finish. On the last lap, the veteran champion who looked to be cruising to a win ran out of gas, a likable underdog driver took the checkered flag, and NASCAR at least waited until Wednesday to suck the joy out of it. The four-time, almost automatic champion’s hopes for a fifth took a hit with a disappointing 25th-place finish. Heck, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. even had a good day.

Unfortunately for NASCAR, not very many people saw it.

The Loudon race’s ratings were almost a full point lower than the same event last season, dropping from a 3.2 to a 2.3 – a loss of 28 percent. That’s close to being the kind of disparity that happens when a race is rained out and takes place on Monday instead; in fact, the overnight 2.1 rating actually matched two rain-delayed NASCAR races from this season on FOX (Martinsville and Texas). In the interest of not piling on, I’m not going to say how many lost viewers that is. But it’s a lot.

John Daly at the Daly Planet often speaks of the television coverage as the culprit, a common reason given for the sport’s decline. He compared it to the NFL, which doesn’t cut to commercials in the middle of the action.

Daly has a point, but excessive advertising on televised NASCAR events is not new. Fans have been complaining about endless green flag commercial breaks for as long as I can remember. They have good reason to; sometimes it’s brutal. But most fans understand that sometimes it’s inevitable in auto racing; after all, there isn’t an opportunity for television time outs as in other sports. The current situation certainly hasn’t helped NASCAR’s cause, and their resistance to moving to a side-by-side format — which always gets rave reviews when TNT does it once a year — is baffling. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine that they haven’t been hearing about that from the Fan Council. But it isn’t the only reason ratings are precipitously falling…

What has happened is that NASCAR continues to push a playoff system that few fans like and that has not attracted any new ones. Do you know anyone who used to think the sport was just hillbillies going in circles until the Chase came along? To say it doesn’t work wouldn’t even be accurate anymore. The Chase and its implications endlessly loom over NASCAR, reminding the sport’s fans that parity and ratings matter more than merit. Fans of a driver having a great season know now that it means nothing, while fans of a driver having a mediocre season don’t get any joy from a points reset like they would for a midseason comeback.

For all the promises NASCAR made about the Chase after a plethora of invisible fans hated Matt Kenseth’s dominant 2003 title run, NASCAR’s playoffs have failed to deliver on the excitement factor over a full ten-week period.

Read comments from the multitudes of disenchanted, displaced ex-NASCAR fans and the list of complaints is long, but the Big Points Giveaway is very often included. People know it’s contrived. People know it’s an attempt to force excitement. They remain unfooled. Fans said as much in 2003, before it even started, and they were ignored.

I’ve said it many times in these pages, but shunning your core base in the effort to excite the ADD crowd is poor business, and with the possible exception of the egress of the Labor Day race, NASCAR never made a bigger statement that its core fans didn’t matter than with the introduction of this current postseason format.

The ADD crowd has moved on— and who would expect it not to? Don’t ADD people, by definition, not stay interested for very long? And the core is still annoyed.

When NASCAR expanded the Chase to 12 drivers, it was a patently obvious measure to ensure that the most popular ones — many of whom had missed the 10-driver Chase in its first few years — would be included in a playoff where others are forgotten unless they win. If you recall, the initial Chase allowed for anyone within 400 points of the leader after 26 races to be eligible for the postseason. To come up with that number, NASCAR had to have recognized that there needed to be a realistic deficit that just couldn’t be overcome in ten races. After Junior and Jeff Gordon missed Chases and they took a ratings hit, officials no longer cared about what was realistic. Sure, a driver can make up 11 spots in ten races. Let’s move on.

Subconsciously or not, NASCAR probably thought that an expanded Chase format would keep Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and other fan favorites in the playoffs long enough to at least keep interest high for a few more races. What they probably didn’t consider was what if the fan favorites still didn’t make the Chase… as has been the case with the sport’s Ratings Superhero in three of the last four years. Did anyone believe that would happen when he signed on with Hendrick Motorsports? If you can make the Chase with just four top 5s these days, as Clint Bowyer did this year, you can’t be running too well if you don’t make it.

It’s very possible that the Chase, especially this year, could produce a Homestead race with as many as six drivers still eligible to win a title. That is, after all, what the Big Points Giveaway was designed to do. Great for Denny Hamlin fans, but disproportionately lousy for Kevin Harvick fans, who have watched their driver consistently race smart and hard to be the best driver out there for six months, only to have his lead wiped out not by other drivers stepping up but by a sanctioning body looking for ratings equalizing the top 12. Are Kevin Harvick fans going to appreciate the “excitement” created this year?

Even if there are six drivers with a chance to win a title at Homestead, do you think fans might prefer that there were three who had all earned it? That maybe the races leading up to it might provide a little more excitement setting the stage? We’ll never know. The Chase killed that possibility.

We may get exciting races towards the finish, but some drivers are going to have to points race. Is Matt Kenseth going to be taking risks now? How about Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart? If any of those drivers fall victim to another DNF, they will be in a big enough hole that they won’t be able to afford another bad finish. It’s all part of the box they’re painted in, as by definition a 10-race sprint puts limits on the risks drivers can take. As more of them use up their “mulligan” (I know that expression isn’t correct – a better one would be “margin of error”, but it’s the standard so I’m going with it) it’s likely that they’ll be keeping their distance from other drivers. Johnson and Stewart took risks last Sunday, and it made for exciting racing, but in the end they got burned. And I’m sure either of them would rather win a boring title.

Carl Edwards told the media that NASCAR would be wise to simply keep the Chase as it is, rather than muck with it some more changes as they have been openly discussing. He’s right in the sense that an adjustment to the Chase would be tantamount to an admission that it hadn’t worked as intended. But keeping the Chase as it is doesn’t seem to bode well, either. In the format’s seventh season, at a point where it should be at least semi-sanctified, and with commentators everywhere touting its renewed promise this time around, the opening event went up against the NFL’s regular season and got creamed.

NASCAR’s playoff has put the sport in a serious bind. To get rid of it now would also be to admit its unpopularity, and there’s more than just Brian France’s ego at stake. If the sport went back to a 36-race season, the first time a driver won the title before the last race, some would be yearning for a Chase format again.

But maybe NASCAR should just let ‘em yearn, because phony points resets aren’t the answer. That doesn’t need to be made more obvious now.

Friday on the Frontstretch:
Down For The Count: Fading Dreams Of A NASCAR Independent
Dollars And Sense: Ganassi Racing And The ‘Value’ Of Creating ‘Value’
Dialing It In: Who And What To Watch At The Monster Mile
Driven To The Past: Being Blessed

Contact Kurt Smith

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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09/24/2010 01:59 AM

I’ve hated the Chase format since day one, basically for one major reason… the Chase drivers still have to compete against non-Chase drivers. How can you possibly call that a playoff system, or even fair?

Then again, nothing in NASCAR seems to be fair. A 150 point fine against Bowyer during a 10 race season (as the Chase technically is) is far more devastating than the same penalty over a 26 race season.

Also, the “we warned you” defense by NASCAR is also absurd. They told RCR that they were legal, just very close to the limit… and this was when? A day, maybe two, if that, before the cars had to be on the truck for Loudon?

If you look at Bowyer’s season, if you were to shorten the races by 10%, he probably would have been ranked #1 in the points. The guy runs in the top 10 for almost the entirety of every race, only to have some bad luck strike him with a handful of laps to go.

I think he is one of the biggest up and comers in the sport. Who also happens to have one of the most likable personalities in the sport too. And they are in desperate need of a new star to root for.

Jr and Gordon still remain the fan favorites, and NASCAR needs for this to change… especially since they aren’t winning races. JJ has a good sized fan base, but Gordon is his part owner (and almost a cookie cutter replica of him), so anything good that JJ does, also pushes Gordon that much higher too. (I think most people forget that Gordon has 8 Championship rings.)

It just seems to me that NASCAR needs a non-biased sanctioning body to make decisions (just like the MLB did) before it truly turns into the WWE.

And I will go on the record as saying that if Bowyer ends up losing the Championship because of this penalty, I will never watch another NASCAR event again. Granted, with this year’s top 12, I think about 8 of the guys will be really tough to beat. So this statement isn’t going too far out on a limb, but I still mean it. Plus, it really won’t take much for me to stop watching NASCAR to begin with.

Bad Wolf
09/24/2010 04:53 AM

This year the chickens are definatly coming home to roost, and Brain France will soon be eating crow.

Bill B
09/24/2010 07:15 AM

Keep beating the drum Kurt. You are saying what we all are thinking. Show me someone that likes the chase and I will show you a 48 fan.
Brian France has not only shunned the core fanbase he has went to war with us. What’s sad though is there is no way for him to win. The longer he digs his heels in and fights HIS war, the more fans leave and the more he loses.

09/24/2010 07:47 AM

Forty-Hater, do you also mean the same for Jimmie Johnson’s 2006 (Daytona 500 cheating scandal, as well as the Dover height controversy) and 2007 (Sonoma cheating scandal) championships? And I’m sure, given the reputation of “Cheating Chad”, Johnson’s 2008 and 2009 championships should have asterixes beside them too!

Stephen HOOD
09/24/2010 07:54 AM

As a fan who turned on my first race seven years ago, I’ve only known the Chase. I don’t remember what it was like “back in the day” but I do recognize that something is amiss. If NASCAR is going to run 36 races, it seems that NASCAR needs to create an incentive for every driver to race to win every race. I am paying $400 for tickets to Talladega at the end of October, and I want the race to be exciting from start to finish. I don’t want to watch Denny Hamlin or Jimmy Johnson or whoever holding back to protect their “points lead.”

I am for creating a points system that only gives driver points for the top 10 finishers. Everyone else goes home with owner points, but no driver points. Owner points continue to be used in the ways they are currently used, but drivers points would be much more rare and harder to earn. This would allow the cream to rise to the top, but could also give rise to late season rallies and allow for several disasters and poor races during the year.

Although I don’t think NASCAR should emulate F1, the F1 points system makes a whole lot more sense to me and as a relatively new fan, I think he chase is silly and distracts from the self contained nature of each race.

09/24/2010 08:08 AM

PBFred makes a good point. The penalty distribution during the Chase is devastating, and it’s one more thing that doesn’t change when the points get reset.

He’s also right that non-playoff teams shouldn’t be there. The whole point of playoffs is that it’s the best against the best.

09/24/2010 08:52 AM

Kurt: The Chase has started off like this more often than not. (With the exception of the 150 point penalty) It is almost always a beating/banging affair that leaves two driver’s chances for a championship dashed upon the rocks. Granted, the WINNER has not been one of them, so that is new, at any rate. I do not expect that this will carry over throughout the entire chase. Expect one or two more drivers to have bad days at dover, and the field to be realistically whittled down to 8. Then the mile-and-a-halfs will drop another 3 just due to good finishes while the annual contenders have great finishes. Talladega will eliminate another 3-4 from realistic, not mathematical contention. When the train eventually wrecks it’s way into homestead, 1 team will be the clear favorite, and 1 or 2 other teams will have an outside chance for success. I am willing to eat your hat, shirt, and shoes if that isn’t the EXACT way this year’s Chase works itself out!!!

Kevin from PA
09/24/2010 09:03 AM

I just LOVE how Brian went after the ADD crowd. Um, Brian – you DO realize that your sport has the longest season of all the major US sports?

I can actually see the following thinking in Daytona a few years back:

How do we keep the ADD interested in a 9 month long sport??? BF: I know – we will create a mini-season of 10 races!!

But the last 10 races directly compete with the NFL? BF: And? Ain’t we #2 and growing faster than that sport? Fine – we will reset the points to make the last 10 races more exciting!!

Doesn’t that make the first 26 races less important BF: NO! We will use the first 26 to seed my new Chase. Drivers will drive like mad to win at all costs for the 10 extra points that it gives them.

But what about the older fans? BF: $&*#@ ‘em. We can easily replace those old hick losers.

Shouldn’t we change the point distribution system to give more incentive to winning instead of points racing BF: Enough, already. I got a golf game at 2:00.

09/24/2010 10:01 AM

I agree with the column. The Chase has failed. NASCAR has tried to turn the Championship into something it can’t be. Auto Racing doesn’t lend itself to a “stick & ball” playoff format. Last year the Chase almost totally tanked because if the 48 doesn’t wreck at Texas he clinches at Phoenix. A big reason for the Chase and the proposed “elimination” format is for ISC to protect Homestead and the Ford sponsorship there. At least I think.

I say can the Chase and redo the way driver’s points are rewarded, so its harder to run away with a points lead. Example, a cut off of points at like 25th or 30th place and more points for top-5s and wins. Also, they should try to revive some verson of the old Winston Million. Offer more points and a cash bonus for winning the big races.

09/24/2010 10:23 AM

This is easy. After 26 races the top 12 drivers in points plus Dale Jr., no matter where he ranks make the chase. Dale Jr. gets 1000 bonus points and a 5 lap lead on all other drivers in every race. If even then he somehow is about to lose the championship the chase is immediately called off and the cup is awarded to Junebug.

That will get the folks to tune in.

09/24/2010 10:44 AM

There are no playoffs in real auto racing. There can’t be, it’s just idiotic and doesn’t make sense. There are race winners though. Who cares if the champion is crowned three races before the series ends? The championship is not where the exciting part of racing happens… it’s in the races and who wins them. That’s what people will watch.

09/24/2010 11:03 AM

Your Poll above should have:
OLD FORMAT; but add 10 Points for Qualifying

It’s part of racing and teams put a heck of a lot of time and preparation getting the cars tuned for qauly…been saying it for years, they need to give points for the fastest car in qualifying and lose the Chase format

09/24/2010 11:04 AM

@ Hutch:

I wish you hadn’t made that suggestion.While it is true that everybody is thinking that, you are about to be offered the only spot on the NEW and IMPROVED fan council. Brian France will gladly institute this chase format, and NA$CAR will be officially dead.

Of course, DansMom, will become a Jr. fan, and tell everybody that she has supported him since day one, and; that Brian France, once again, has made a FLAWLESSLY BRILLIANT business decision.

It will all be your fault!!! lmao

09/24/2010 11:06 AM

I agree the chase has to go. But there are other factors that are bringing Nascar down. Price of tickets, lost sponsorships, COT just to name a few. The season is way too long and when it overlaps football that is a problem. Television coverage is terrible too. All they talk about is the top drivers every week. If your driver isn’t one of their favorites forget hearing any mention of them. I went from a longtime super fan to a a casual fan the last few years. From attending at least one race a year to not going at all.

09/24/2010 11:35 AM

I went over to the Daly Planet where they are talking about this too (along with the broadcasters of course) and there was posted there a kind of likeable chase fix idea sent in by a poster:

“…As for the chase, fix it. I do not watch Football regularly. I do not watch Baseball or Basketball regularly. I could care less about the regular season in any of them or where teams stand.

I do, though, watch during the playoffs. The losers have gone home and one of the teams that remain will win. I do have my favorites of course and I am disappointed if they are not in the playoff mix, but I still watch.

The same could work in NASCAR. Here is my idea. I have written of it before and I have talked about it too to whomever will listen.

1. Regular Season ends at 14th race out. Regular Season Champion is crowned and the top 12 are locked in. All points except earned chase bonus points cease to exist for the succeeding 3 races. Three spots in the Chase remain to be filled by…

2. Wild Cards. One Wild Card Chaser is chosen in each of the next 3 races. One each race. The one chosen in any race is the top non-chase finisher in that race.

3. The Chase proper begins as now with the 10th race out. All non-chasers go home. Everyone is reset to ZERO + any bonus points earned. In each race of the chase low man leaves the island which leaves…

4. A championship race with six entries. Winner take all.

That builds excitement and it is the way performance competition TV shows work. It is custom made for the casual fan and creates drama.

Of course a bad week can sink a driver — so what? So, the start and parkers cannot come and get paid for qualifying — so what? It is the survival of the fittest the best and the luckiest.”

Since I will not hold my breath waiting for BF to admit he blew it withe the chase idea I hope one of his bowing and scraping minions will finally tell him the chase has no clothes and if it is to be kept it must be repaired. But I will not hold my breath for that to happen either.

09/24/2010 12:09 PM

I think babydufus hit the nail on the head. The Championship is the big picture, but its a bi product of being good all year. We tune in ever week (or used to) to watch good racing and see who wins. We dont care that after the 1st race Racer X is not in the top 12. Racing from a fans point of few is about RACING, not building up a points lead. Yes we all want our favorite driver to win the championship, but we want to see him/her leading the most laps and winning races, not just riding around collecting points and a check every week!

Russ Williams
09/24/2010 12:25 PM

Sorry to disagree, but it isn’t the Chase that is the root of NASCARS problems. It is the almost ideallic worship of losers and non-performers like JR that upsets the Bubbas. The 48’s run of 4 straight would be hailed in any other venue. He is simply the best to come along since DW dethroned the establishment. (They didn’t like him either!) His winning a 5th this year will overshadow the performance of all other drivers in Nascar history. Kyle Bush, love him or hate him, is NASCARS biggest draw. All those who like to complain about his driving should trudge on down to namby-pamby land and get a pair! He brings real excitement to a very boring sport. Simply put, NASCAR is NOT real racing, it is show business. The announcers are nausiating, the hours of pre-race hype are boring and unnecessary and we get color commentary instead of racing. Mix this in with 2 minutes of commercials for every minute of racing and you see the result. I have been an avid racing fan for more than 50 years but I just can’t watch anymore. For the first time in years we will not attend the Phoenix race…. and we won’t miss it.

09/24/2010 12:29 PM

Call me a conspiracy theorist; fine. But we cannot have someone like Clint Bowyer showing America just how STOOOPID this whole chase crap is! Think about it: this driver barely makes it into the “playoff”, then goes from (almost) last to (almost) first in ONE FREAKING RACE! Anyone can see just how ludicrous this makes that whole “chase” crap look, so we need to make an example of this upstart, don’t we? But I truly believe it goes much deeper than that. Consider this (fasten your seatbelts!): When Brain Farce originally made his deal with Toyota to bring them into NA$CAR, a promise was made to Toyota of a championship trophy within X number of years. Now, knowing full well that the old-school, hard-core stock-car racing fans are no big fans of the “rice-burners”, the Brain Farce had to come up with a strategy to make this Japanese championship somewhat more palatable. Enter four consecutive championships for (insert driver’s name here), in order to make the masses so sick and tired of the same old same old, that they’ll all jump for joy at the thought of someone, ANYONE else as champion. So MARK MY WORDS: A TOYOTA WILL WIN THE 2010 CUP! It will probably be Hamlin, so Shrub can “knock him off his throne” next year. But for 2010, let’s keep ole fourtime in the running, to keep all those fans hoping for something new. So guys like Harvick and Gordon (who have both showed the consistency that would have put them at the top before this CHASECRAP) had better watch their P’s and Q’s, or else his highness will find a way to eliminate them also. As such, there is simply no room for guys like Bowyer, who just don’t understand the Big Picture in Brian’s BigTop.

09/24/2010 12:43 PM

I agree with babydufus as well. Excellent post.

A poster on another article on here suggested the following format for the Chase (if we have to have one

Group 1: 20 drivers make the Chase
Group 2: 23 don’t

2 races each day. First Group 2 races for 200 miles and points are awarded for how they finish with a couple million dollars for the points winner.

Next, Group 1 races for 300 miles. Most points in those races is the champion.

This would break up the 4 hour borefest each week and give the Group 2 drivers some exposure also.

I like it. An even simpler solution would be to give alot more points for winner and ending the Chase altogether.

Neither option will probably ever come to pass but I can still dream, can’t i?

Kevin in SoCal
09/24/2010 12:46 PM

Bill B said: “Show me someone that likes the chase and I will show you a 48 fan.”

Not me. While I prefer the Chase to the previous format (not saying I like the Chase), but the only thing I like about Jimmie Johnson is that he’s from California and drives a Chevy.

Kurt said: “Are Kevin Harvick fans going to appreciate the “excitement” created this year?”

Why would NASCAR cater to Kevin Harvick fans, or any one else’s fans for that matter? Its not NASCAR’s fault Harvick led the points all year but only had 3 wins to Hamlin’s 6 and Johnson’s 5. That’s the way the points are structured and everyone knew it when we started this circus back in February.

And I still firmly believe if Dale Jr had won four championships in a row, we wouldnt be having all this Chase hate. Its sad, but its the truth.

09/24/2010 01:01 PM

For you folks that have watched the 24 hours of Daytona and seen the two different classes start the race seprate from each other. Maybe that’s how NASCAR should do it. Have the chasers line up behind one pace car, and the non-chasers behind the second pace car and have the non-chasers take the green 30 seconds later. Might as well if that’s how NASCAR is treating it.

09/24/2010 01:30 PM

Wait, I think I have the solution –

After 26 races the top 12 make the chase and then the fans get to vote in one more driver that they want to see have a shot at the title. We will call it the Dale Jr. most popular driver vote. This will ensure that those just watching to see Juneyjunebug will continue to tune in for the last 10 races.

Maybe, after someone else wins the cup we can have another vote to see if it should be awarded to someone else. Guess who?

09/24/2010 01:32 PM

Big points giveaway is so right. Like many other fans, I’ve hated the chase since day one and continue to loathe it again this year.

A winner of the 10 race portion of the season is NOT the champion. I don’t care how many trophies Johnson holds over his head at the last race of the season until he has led the points during the entire season and is still in front at the end, its worth nothing to me.

If he’s the best, prove it over 36 races, not coast into the chase and then get the points reset and race from there.

It’s ironic, I wasn’t a “casual” fan until NASCAR made all their stupid changes. I watch less NASCAR than I ever have.

Kevin in SoCal
09/24/2010 04:09 PM

So is the winner of the World Series not a “true champion” if they only won 80 games during the regular season, while their opponent won 100 games? Is the winner of the Super Bowl undeserving because their record was 10-6 instead of 15-1?
Many other sports have “points resets” and start all over for the playoffs. Remember the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won ~120 games during the regular season and then choked in the ALCS. Should we have just awarded them the trophy anyway because they won the most games? How many of you bitched this much when baseball changed from the winner of the most games in each baseball league faced each other, to the current divisions and playoff system?
And yes, it is strange and different to see non-playoff cars on the track, but how many people would show up to see 12 cars on the track? Especially in places like Kansas and Homestead where NASCAR only visits once. Do you think those fans want to see only 12 cars racing? I dont. NASCAR should have done what Tony Stewart suggested in 2006 when he missed the Chase: hold two races, a 200-300 mile pre-race for the non-Chasers, and then a 100-200 mile race for the 12 Chasers. It works for the All-Star race.

Bad Wolf
09/24/2010 04:52 PM

You miss the point Kevin in SoCal. We Nascar fans used to pride ourselves because our sport was not like the stick and ball shows. We used to laugh derisivly at the follies of the other sports and were glad our sport was pure and real.

Now that Nascar has turned it into another version of the stick and ball show we old fans are leaving and not looking back. The problem is all the stick and ball newbies who jumped on the bandwagon in the last 10 years or so that think the chase is just grand and the real reason for the hate is that Jr. has not been Champion.

Get rid of the Clown Car and bring back STOCK, and re-institute the Latford system while beating the networks over the head with a sledgehammer until they actually show racing again and not just the top drivers who line their pockets.

09/24/2010 07:26 PM

Here’s a stat I found…

Number of times selected drivers were focused on:
Joe Nemechek – 5
Dave Gilliland – 19
Jeff Gordon – 73
A.J. Allmendinger – 83
Kevin Harvick – 89
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 93
Kurt Busch – 99
Jeff Burton – 105
Kyle Busch – 107
Denny Hamlin – 119
Tony Stewart – 122
Jamie McMurray – 123
Carl Edwards – 125
Clint Bowyer (race winner) – 187
Notice who’s missing?
Maybe they are too embarassed to print the number.

09/24/2010 08:41 PM

Can someone please enlighten me about the complaint that the season is just too long? I’ve been following NASCAR since 1961. Back then, there was a 45 to 50 race schedule. One year, I think 1965, there were 55 races run. The new season actually started in Late November, two weeks after the previous season ended. Then, for years, the first 500 mile race was run in mid-January in Riverside, California, a full month before the Daytona 500. And if you ever check out a website called “racing-reference”, there was even a race run between Christmas and New Years one year. There was never a problem with the length of the schedule then. Why are you so bent out of shape about it now? I personally do not like football (or baseball for that matter) so I still watch the races. So please enlighten me as to why it’s a problem now?

Also, about the “shocking” drop in TV rating last weekend. First, on the States side of the border, wasn’t last year’s Loudon race on the general (translated: the network EVERYBODY has) ABC network? This year, wasn’t it on ESPN? How many homes actually have ESPN? Is it all the same nember that have the general ABC network? In Canada, we have a sports channel called TSN that calls itself “Canda’s NASCAR Broadcast Partner”. Only about 75% of Canadian homes have TSN. However, last week’s race was shown on TSN2, which is only in about 20% of Canadian homes. That is a lot less homes able to watch the race. Sounds to me like the networks are the ones going out of their way to sabotage the broadcasts with the intent to deliberately drive people to watch football! Just a thought!

09/24/2010 09:14 PM

@ KevinInSoCal: Aside from not using a stick or a ball, the main difference between racing and the other major sports, is that only in racing do all teams compete against each other on the same “field” at the same time.

For that reason the play-offs and post season is redundant and unnecessary. For virtually all of NA$CAR’s history the championship contenders have not been whoever is most popular, or even whoever has won the most races. It has been about whoever had the team that ran most consistently at the front of the pack, earning themselves the best average finishing position over the entire season.

Brian France, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t like the idea that this frequently meant that the final 2 or 3 races were not “MUST SEE TV“. So he gave us the stick and ball season ending. So now that Homestead is must see TV, NOTHING ELSE IS. That’s why the chase is broken.

Seriously, the important races are, The Daytona 500 (for it’s history), The Fall Richmond 400 (to see who qualifies for the Chase), and The Homestead 400 (to see who wins the championship). Any other race that people choose to watch, is simply because they like that track, or they have nothing more pressing to accomplish.

In essence, Brian France, through the chase has taken a scenario in which only 3 races per year didn’t matter, and turned it into one where only 3 races per year do matter.

@ Ken: I wouldn’t say that the networks are sabotaging racing in favor of Football. The networks that carry racing don’t carry football and it would ruin their own market-share and profits. They might, however; sabotage NA$CAR in order to devalue it and be able to renegotiate the outrageous sums of money to which the France family feels entitled.

Bill B
09/24/2010 09:18 PM

@Kevin in SoCal,
“And yes, it is strange and different to see non-playoff cars on the track, but how many people would show up to see 12 cars on the track? “

You just proved why a playoff format doesn’t fit in NASCAR. You want to use baseball and football as an example, come back when all the teams continue to play against those that didn’t make it. See, the ridiculousness (is that a word?) of thinking about all the teams still playing in the NFL or MLB is exactly how ridiculous trying to have a playoff looks in NASCAR.

Bill B
09/24/2010 09:27 PM

I can’t figure that out either. I wish they were all 500 milers, and I am fine with the length of the season.
I also don’t mind long green flag runs, 80% of the field being lapped, and someone winning with a 8 second lead when the alternatives are faked cautions and contrived excitement. I fully realized when I became a fan that sometimes that’s just the way it goes because it’s a sport and I was fine with it.

09/24/2010 09:39 PM

Back in the 60’s we didn’t get as much sports on tv which may be why no one complained the season was too long. I can’t wait when February rolls around and have Daytona to look forward to, and during the summer, nothing wrong with Nascar and baseball, but by the time fall rolls around and it’s time for football and we’re into the 26th race of the year, I’m tired of wasting my Sunday’s on another race that lasts for hours. You may say I’m not a true Nascar fan, but I am. I go to races once a year when I can afford it, I diligently watch every race every week. The season is just too long and the fact that who ever is leading all year gets knocked down a peg or two because of a reset after 26 races is just ridiculous. Tony last year, Kevin this year. I agree with Jacob too. You can’t compare stick and ball sports with Nascar when it comes to playoffs. There is no comparison. Completely different sports. Leave ‘em wanting more instead of driving them away in droves. TV coverage sucks too but I did like Racing Buddy for the TNT coverage.

09/24/2010 10:52 PM

@ Linda:

Maybe part of the problem is that back in the 1960’s NASCAR was one of the many sports that you didn’t watch on TV. There were clips and snippets of the major events, but it was the 80’s before every race of the season was shown.

I won’t say that you aren’t a true fan. I won’t even insinuate it. But you have multiple sports that you like to follow and other priorities. That is fine.

For some of us, we don’t care even a little bit about the MLB, NFL, or NBA. Racing is the only sport that we care about. For us the off-season is too long. Or at least it used to be. Before the current NA$CAR administration spit in our faces and drove us away in hordes.

If you don’t want to follow NA$CAR beyond a certain point, then don’t. But why would you try to influence the length of the season just because it is inconvenient for you?

You can just as easily sign in to your computer and see who won the race and/or championship without ever seeing a race that you don’t wish to.

09/25/2010 03:10 AM

Many good points here but no one mentioned that NASCAR has become a “machine shop contest” rather than automobile racing. The idea that the winner of a race can be changed three days after its completion is ridiculous. Aside from the safety aspects of the new cars, the voluminous rules measuring the geometry of a sheetmetal or fiberglass shell attached to a steel frame to thousandths of an inch is silly. It makes driving secondary to shop work. As someone once said, “You can’t legislate people into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

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