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.
Kurt Smith · Friday November 5, 2010
It would be difficult to tout 2010 as a winning year for NASCAR. Television ratings continue their steady decline, and events that at one time never saw empty seats now have huge advertising panels covering them. The playoff races especially have been whitewashed by the NFL, ratings down well over 20 percent on most weekends even as the customary points reset has somehow miraculously produced a close championship battle.
The continuing decline seems to have the sport in a mild panic. One wonders if Brian France really believes what he says about, “the racing is great and will carry the day,” which has replaced “People are watching on the Internet” as his blanket ratings comment. More changes are being discussed to spice up the package, with the hope that these adjustment will bring a new buzz to a sport decidedly lacking it at the moment— despite that very little recent legislation has helped much.
It doesn’t seem difficult to imagine what 2011 will be like. The ratings and attendance slide will probably continue as it has in the last five years, although that depends on a number of things. The economy is probably a factor in folks not attending races, so whether things improve may make a difference in attendance.
But I’m still of the conviction that it’s not the economy so much. The television ratings have almost been proportionate to the slide in attendance, and watching on TV doesn’t require gas money.
A Dale Earnhardt, Jr. resurgence would likely lead to a small bump in the ratings, no doubt. NASCAR enjoyed one of its few recent upticks in interest in the first half of the 2008 season, when Junior was running reasonably well in his first year with Hendrick Motorsports. But this change in course is not likely. Rick Hendrick has replaced just about everyone on the No. 88 team with the same results, and even a new crew chief shouldn’t be expected to make much difference. There is always the public statement that “getting the 88 running well is the top priority for this team” (they said the exact same thing about Casey Mears, too), but if everything they’ve thrown at it hasn’t worked yet, it’s probably not going to.
Of course, it’s a shame NASCAR should probably not count on a renewed No. 88 team gathering back a lost audience. Remember that Junior led 90 laps at Martinsville and brought many in the crowd to their feet; more than ever, there are Junior fans still going to races.
Richard Petty Motorsports, the last bastion of the Petty name in NASCAR, is in dire straits, to say the least. No one doubts that King Richard is a figurehead at the company, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t sentiment among fans for the organization bearing his name. If they’re struggling to finish out this year, they will need a lot of luck to get going in 2011, already having given up two cars.
Not only would the loss of RPM bring out a slew of articles bemoaning the long, agonizing disappearance of the Pettys from racing, it leaves the field with a tiny few blue ovals on the track. There is talk of an Earnhardt-Ganassi switch to Fords, but for the moment that is just talk – the team has publicly announced they will stay with Chevrolet. Brand loyalty in NASCAR isn’t what it once was, but if it didn’t matter at all, Ford probably would have pulled out by now.
Is any other team going to experience similar troubles? At the moment, most established teams appear solid even with the sponsorship difficulties for Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. But if two sure Hall of Fame drivers with six titles between them have trouble landing sponsorship, it is not going to be easy out there.
If there are at least four fewer full-time teams fielding cars, it stands to reason that there will be more field fillers and start-and-parks. It might be a good time for NASCAR to blow up the top-35 rule, since it isn’t likely to be needed. Or a good move might be to reduce the size of the fields if the networks allow it… although NASCAR admitting to shrinking isn’t likely to happen either.
NASCAR will race Sprint Cup cars at Kentucky Speedway next year for the first time, which will probably be one of the highest attended races of the season. A race moving from California to Kentucky will have some short-term goodwill impact in 2011. It probably won’t last too long once people see that Kentucky is another 1.5-miler, but at least the demographic is there and the first event will probably sell out.
There will also be another race in Kansas next year, and the Chase will open at Chicagoland. Will Kansas fill seats for two dates like it does for one? Doubtful. Nor do I think Chicagoland will see a bump in interest due to it being the opening playoff race. It certainly didn’t help the ratings for Loudon this year. Will fans miss two races at Atlanta Motor Speedway? Probably not; in fact, Atlanta should see a boost in attendance having only its Labor Day event.
Declining ratings of 2010 will probably continue to do more damage to the quality of races and broadcasts. The current television contracts pose a big problem for NASCAR. The networks paid huge money for the rights to broadcast races, and as lower ratings lead to lower advertising rates, they will need to saturate their coverage with marketing to make them profitable. That, in turn, has been a reason for ratings dipping in the first place. Moreover, as fewer people watch and marketing budget dollars become scarcer, potential sponsors will need serious coaxing to put their logos on race cars. The timing couldn’t be worse.
The lack of sponsorship problem is already bad enough in the Nationwide Series. Justin Allgaier has been running with the Cup boys all season long and has lost his sponsor with no known prospects of a replacement. Steve Wallace has the benefit of his father’s backing, and there isn’t anything wrong with that, but few other Nationwide-only participants are that assured of staying in the race. We’ll probably see more Cup drivers in a series with too many of them in 2011, when the Danica Show is not in town. In an era where the once hardcore fan is tuning out, two days of Kyle Busch racing Carl Edwards for 34 weeks with no future prospects for them to race against may be too much even for Kyle and Carl fans.
Then there is the matter of dropping ratings as the playoffs commence, unheard of in any other sport. ESPN/ABC has already moved Chase races to its cable network, one year after most of them were featured on ABC. The network insists that the switch has not been a factor in declining ratings, even though cable television is one thing people scale back in tough times. The question now is what ESPN is going to tell NASCAR with regards to the Chase. Will there be pressure to change it?
Pressure or not, Brian France is already talking about it, meaning a 15-driver, elimination format playoff with just two drivers standing at Homestead may be on the horizon. I can’t tell you how accurate most of the predictions in this article will be, but I can almost assure you that such a format will be met with derision and further egress of NASCAR fans.
My guess is that the Chase isn’t changing. If there’s anyone up high in NASCAR with some sway with France, he’ll let him know that the sport would be best served not reminding people how they perverted the championship. Unfortunately, it is going to stay, as NASCAR continues to entrench it and promote it no matter how much the dogs don’t like the dog food. If Kevin Harvick fans watch their driver lose a title to Jimmie Johnson, who once again got hot at the right time, chances are NASCAR may lose a few of them, too.
So we’ve got all that as a landslide of potential possibilities, not to mention the rumblings that may be heard surrounding the future schedule and the annual rumors of Martinsville possibly losing an event in 2012.
Between a hugely popular driver not making any splashes, a vicious cycle of declining ratings leading to decreased sponsorship, no future stars on the horizon, and the perception that the sport is worse off than it actually is, it’s doubtful that 2011 will be better for NASCAR than 2010.
But who knows. Maybe the sport really has bottomed out. Maybe Junior will make a comeback. Maybe the economy will improve. Maybe NASCAR has taken enough of a beating, although, like with the Democrats this last Tuesday, for some it won’t be enough.
Time will tell.
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Will somebody be left to turn off the lights?
If you want to see racing, go to your local short tracks and help out the little guys that still run for the trophies. You’ll see beat’n and bang’n, flaired tempers, emotional outbursts, and side by side finishes….
If you want to see “Racetainment” tune into “ESPN 8 de Ocho” if your cable subscriber carries it…….
There’s an old business caveat: “The man that takes a company form zero dollars to 100 millions dollars is not the same man that takes that 100 million dollar company to a billion dollar company.” And the inverse exists also: “The man that takes a billion dollar company down to a 100 million company is not the same man that can save it.” Perhaps NA$CAR will figure this out and put the right man in the position to save their company. Personally, I do not believe that Brian France is that savior. Hopefully, NA$CAR will figure that out before it’s too late.
Well said, although I think you’re being kind. It isn’t that the timing of their decline is bad…NASCAR caused it with poor broadcasts and an unpopular playoff.
I agree with MJR, Brian France should go. It’s not all his fault, but he is the face of the decline. And the Chase needs to go and Brian will never get rid of it.
Well said, Kurt. Here are a few more thoughts:
You reflected my thoughts entirely. I see some hope though. The deal that will keep 2 dates at Martinsville the next 5 years. The new nose on the COT and the coming changes in 2013. Remember in 2007, 08 the standard line was “No changes to the COT.” While not perfect the schedule changes were a positive step. Most fans hate Fontana (I hope it falls into a sink hole), and at least Kentucky is still in the South. Thankfully, I am hearing the elimination Chase is losing steam, but they may still go to 15 drivers. Apparently, there will be some restriction on Cup guys running for the Nationwide title.
Though, they need to do more and if ISC and SMI could get along they might accomplish real schedule change. Some suggestions: Invest in both N. Wilkesboro and/or Rockingham for Nationwide/Truck racing, especially with more stand alone non-Cup tracks closing (RIP Gateway). Also, find a way in 2012 to get Iowa a Cup race, we want more short tracks. I hope things have hit rock bottom, but they probably haven’t. NASCAR needs to reconnect with traditional race fans again before it’s too late. I’m from NY but I liked it more when NASCAR had that Southern feel. It doesn’t anymore.
To the best of my knowledge, your statement, “Rick Hendrick has replaced just about everyone on the No. 88 team with the same results”, is untrue and you are spreading misinformation. If you have knowledge other than 1 change, please give names. Otherwise, please just state the facts. Fans just want the truth.
Pepper—Ask Mark Martin what happened to some of the best people on his team. They have changed everything on the team except the problem. The unhappy problem will drive as long as he can stand it. He is clearly unhappy and it shows.
Craig said: “Most fans hate Fontana (I hope it falls into a sink hole),”
Actually, that was Charlotte that had a sink hole. And how would you like it if I said I hope your state falls into a sink hole?
If NASCAR changes the Chase yet again to be 15 drivers and an elimination format, I’ll join the rest of you in hating it.
With the Chase being so close this year, I’m sure Brian France will use the slogan “See, I told you so” throughout the offseason to tell fans how stupid they are not to think the Chase could ever be exciting.
What does it say that the points race is the closest its been and people still aren’t watching. The championship could be won by one point this year and people will still hate the Chase.
Boy some people can’t take a joke. But almost all NASCAR fans hate Auto Club Speedway, and would prefer to see it completely off the schedule. The racing is consistently boring, the grandstand is almost always half-full and the Spring 2008 race is the biggest fiasco I’ve ever seen at a race track. This was the track that was supposedly worth moving the Southern 500/taking a date from Rockingham for. I know it’s your local track, but Pocono is the closest non-road course to me, and I wish they would take it off the schedule for the sake of good racing. I heard even SoCal fans will drive to Las Vegas to avoid Fontana. It wasn’t even designed for stock cars, Penske built it primarily for Indy Cars. NASCAR finally got the message and took a Fontana date for Kansas instead of taking it from Martinsville (the rumor for the last few years).
I had to drop my cable so now only have regular TV so I listen only on 99.9 radio so unless you get NASCAR back on real people’s TV nobody is ever gonna watch except for two races a year.
I Don’t believe the constant reporting of everything negative is helping either. I Sure it’s not bringing in the sponsor $ which creates the next negative report. I’m sure all of these reporters will find another sport to write about when it’s over.
Funny how I dont hear these same “the racing sucks” comments about Michigan, when they’re almost the exact same track. That’s what gets me the most. Why does Michigan get a pass while Fontana doesnt? And yes, I’d rather go to Las Vegas for the environment than Fontana, who wouldnt? I’d rather go to Las Vegas for the environment over Martinsville or Richmond, too. That argument is not saying much.
Seems like I always hear people complaining that the races at Michigan suck. There are several tracks that have boring races, Fontana is not alone in this. Kevin, do you seriously think that Fontana was not asking for a second date?
Craig, I have to disagree with you on one point.
Like some have said on this thread , go to a local short track to watch racing or WORLD OF OUTLAWS race , I have been attending races since 1983 and I actually enjoy the camping world series the most , I go to Vegas and dover every year along with Richmond and the coke 600 , down from about 10 races a year , for several reasons not just economics , but the racing has really sucked , wasted caution laps for a piece of paper really burns my butt for one , nascar tried making the sport into somthing it never was , docking drivers for cussing , slapping guys on the wrist for aggresive driving HELLO , DOES ANYBODY remeber dale sr , Cale , the silver fox and even King Richard could rough guys up and then they say have at it boys , this ugly cot car , we are seeing the same garbage in the NFL , you can never make things perfect , another thing that ticked me off Nascar would change rules in mid season , Just Race the Damn cars and if they add drivers to the chase Im done , all you are doing is watering down the chase , it’s like the NHL 16 teams make the playoffs , reg season doesn’t mean a whole lot
Jacob, I couldn’t agree more. I haven’t been back to the Brickyard since the tire disaster even though they fixed the problem. I just have a problem with giving them my hard earned money when they haven’t done anything to earn it from me. There were all kinds of articles and letters to the editor in the Indy paper right after that race saying that NA$CAR, Goodyear or IMS should have given at least partial refunds to the fans who had to sit through that. And of course, nothing came of that, since they already had our money. I’d rather go to ORP for the truck races (it’s better racing, anyway – and it costs about a quarter of what a Cup race ticket costs).
Great column Kurt.