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.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday March 24, 2010
Did You Notice? … The debate raging on over all the empty seats at Bristol? Everyone’s trying to figure out if the answer lies in the economy, a different style of racing, or just plain ol’ fan disinterest.
So, which is it?
I’ve heard some strong, compelling arguments for #1. People claim that tough times mean tough choices when it comes to Bristol. After all, it used to be the hottest ticket in sports, where even the cheap seats didn’t come cheap. The lowest price for Bristol single-day walkup tickets was $93 – compared to a $40 seat currently available for Richmond’s Saturday night Cup show in May.
Bristol is also notorious for jacking up the prices on their hotels. Although TV people can sometimes get lucky, I can definitively tell you I’ve stayed somewhere that was a $350-a-night rate for the August race. I remember looking at the invoice and thinking two things:
1) I have the best job ever that someone’s willing to spend that much for me to cover my favorite sport.
But I know the fans aren’t so lucky. There’s nightmarish stories about three-night minimums and travel expenses, totals that run you well over $1,000 for a three-day weekend that shouldn’t cost half that much.
Considering Bristol’s within shouting distance of five other tracks on the circuit (Atlanta, Talladega, Martinsville, Charlotte, and “$40” Richmond) I can understand why fans would choose to save money and head elsewhere. And with 158,000 seats (only Daytona and Indy have more) it’s not exactly like you’re selling out a track like Chicagoland or Phoenix, which have less than half that capacity.
When you put it like that, it just sounds so easy to just jump on that economic bandwagon and bite, doesn’t it? NASCAR has you hook, line, and sinker, as do several of our track promoters ‘round the country who refuse to believe the racing itself is the problem.
Well, I’m sorry guys: I just don’t buy it.
We’ll build our argument from the ground up. By and large, most fans have expressed displeasure at Bristol’s repaving (in a Frontstretch poll last week, 62 to 38 percent favored the “old” Bristol). When that happens, you’re going to have numerous people choose to turn their backs on the product if the ticket price still places it within the top 5 best races in the sport each year. After all, the Super Bowl doesn’t have a love-hate relationship with three-fifths of the NFL fan base, does it?
Let me list just a few comments from Matt McLaughlin’s race recap column on Monday to get my point across. Keep in mind Matt’s column is well-read; we’re not just talking five grumpy people jumping online to whine about a race they didn’t see:
Secesh: “I’m just glad I went to Bristol back in the 80’s.”
But let’s move on to the third and most important theory listed for Bristol, that attendance is being directly affected by the economy. I just decided to pick five NASCAR tracks at random (one short track, two intermediates, one superspeedway, one triangular road/oval) and looked at their Spring attendance dates for the last five years. Keep in mind the economic crash didn’t happen until 2008, so it’s hard to skew the numbers before then:
Spring Attendance Chart:
As you can see, there’s a big skew downward in numbers between 2008 to 2009. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an overall decline as a whole before the crash. And regardless of the economic difficulties, these five tracks are producing shocking numbers: Attendance has declined a staggering 14.1 percent for them over this time period. This downward spiral for NASCAR overall continues in 2010, with only one of the first five races we’ve been to (Las Vegas) posting an increase in overall attendance.
Now that I’ve thrown all these numbers at you, let’s keep something else in mind: NASCAR is exaggerating the totals as of late. Remember the Fontana incident, where attendance was listed at 72,000 while reporters threatened to rebel, they were so certain the numbers were inflated? Most pegged the attendance in the 50 or 60,000 range, a 10,000+ difference that many sources off the record will tell you seems to be a pattern this season. So keep that in mind when looking at the numbers for the past three years. After all, when your product’s starting to go downhill the last thing you need is reporters writing about severe attendance declines – so it’s a simple, basic marketing tactic. Fudge the numbers by as much as you can (to the edges of justification) in order to minimize the bleeding.
Here’s one other question to ask yourself: are other sports experiencing the same types of attendance problems?
Not exactly. We’ll start with college football, where you’d expect numbers would be down in these economically depressed areas, right? After all, Alabama (Talladega) and Michigan have severe drops in NASCAR attendance, which means fans must not be going to any other sporting events, either.
So here’s a quick look at college attendance figures from 2009:
Hmm. That’s interesting … so fans still have the money to spend on college football but not NASCAR. I understand your rebuttal; it’s a one-day show, so hotels and all sorts of auxiliary expenses aren’t involved. But the ticket prices are comparable – Alabama vs. Florida is an $85 ticket in 2010, for example – so these people are still shelling out money to attend these games. It’s not like these races are being held in desolate areas, either; for Bristol there’s 350,000 people in the Tri-Cities area alone who wouldn’t need the extra expenses of gas or a hotel to attend the race.
And let’s not forget the power of passion above all. If you’re a sports fan, wouldn’t you want to spend your cash rooting for your favorite team (or in this case, driver)? Why cut out a race and still go see college football if you like NASCAR that much more? Sounds to me like the racing wasn’t as interesting, so that’s the sporting event families decided to cut.
Let’s move on to another easy comparison: TV ratings. It would make sense that if fans are staying home, they’re still turning on the boob tube to watch every Sunday, right? After all, 98.2 percent of Americans have one, and none of these races require cable or satellite to watch. But here’s where the economic theory really runs into the ground: ratings for NASCAR races through the first four races of 2010 are 24 percent lower than they were five years ago – when the economy was stable.
But let’s dig deeper. Remember how bad this year’s 500 ratings were? Let’s compare that to some big event ratings of other major sports, and we see a positive trend over the last five years:
Baseball: World Series Ratings – 2005 vs 2009: 7.2 percent increase (11.1 vs 11.9)
Oops! Almost forgot us.
I know I just threw out a heck of a lot of numbers at you. If you wanted, I could go really in-depth and talk about how the regular season numbers for all these major sports are up while NASCAR is down. But I think I’ve made my point. So the next time someone tells you the economy is the problem, that all these fans are staying away ‘cause of money and the second things pick up, they’ll be back – show ‘em some numbers.
People might say I’m being pessimistic. Look, I think NASCAR’s done a phenomenal job with changes designed to improve the product on the race track this season. But it pisses me off when people say, “It’s the economy. It’s the economy.” I’m sorry, but are you blind? Are you in the trenches, talking to fans, talking to people in bars, and getting a barometer on the state of the sport? I can’t tell you how many emails I get each week saying, “I’m no longer a NASCAR fan because of A, B, and C.” It’s alarming.
And trust me: it’s not because they’re broke.
Did You Notice? … That with the way Tony The Tiger’s been sniping at the media lately, you’d think his whole season’s been one soggy bowl of rotting Frosted Flakes. But ever so quietly, the sport’s slowest starter has climbed up to fifth in points, fresh off a runner-up Bristol finish that also served as his first top 5 of the season. Just 89 points off Harvick’s pace, the sophomore slump everyone’s talking about at Stewart-Haas may simply be limited to Ryan Newman’s No. 39 when you look at the numbers. Just sneak a peek at Stewart’s Cup career through the first five races since his rookie year:
1999: 0 wins, 1 top 5, 1 top 10, 14th in points
As you can see, Smoke’s current start is in line with past years and better than 2009, when he wound up dominating the summer and coasting in as the regular season points champ. People say Stewart hasn’t won a race yet. So what? Only one of his 37 career victories have ever come within the first five races. And considering the upcoming spoiler switch, he’ll have access to data from Hendrick simulations likely to keep them at or near the front of the pack.
So why has Stewart been grouchy with the media if things are going so peachy? That’s anybody’s guess. But it’s not because he’s slumping on the race track … I’m sure of it.
Did You Notice? … No need to get too long this week, so some quick hits before I go:
- The #1 buzzword coming out of this spoiler test so far? Stability. Drivers feel more comfortable with the handling of the car, and the drag down the straightaways will keep both RPMs and speeds lower. That’s a good thing, because if the drivers don’t feel like the car will snap around smack in the middle of the turn, chances are there’ll be more side-by-side racing … at least until people start thinking about the risks involved with losing points for the Chase. Oh man, we were almost getting somewhere…
- Lance McGrew and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fighting on the radio might be the best thing to ever happen to the No. 88. I’ve been saying for years someone needs to do just that, lighting a fire under Earnhardt while he’s in the driver’s seat. And guess what … it worked! The second NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver got hot under the collar, he drove like a bat out of you-know-what! (Hint: The opposite of heaven). If I were McGrew, I’d keep this lesson in my back pocket and have a barrage of insults to throw at the man whenever needed. It’s called tough love … and it’s just about the only thing they haven’t tried to get this guy running back up front.
- If NASCAR’s going to throw out more speeding penalties than your local cops, the least they can do is show us the data that makes it legit. Because the more people that get caught, the more it becomes an issue – and fans will begin to criticize that all-important “grey area” that can lead one to believe this sport keeps on playing favorites.
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NA$CAR needs, more than anything else, to turn the officiating over to an independent body.
Create a system like MLB and NFL has. It is crazy that the owners of the sport, who also own most of the tracks, also control the Officials.
Make a rule book, print it, then turn it over to an independent body, with total autonomy, and final say, and let the chips fall how they may.
Only then will you begin to make the sport legitimate.
We used to pull the camper to a couple of races a year and make a week out of it, but after Brain France, the COT and the Chase we don’t go any more.I used to watch every race on TV live, but after Brain France, the COT, The Chase and the morons in the Fox booth I don’t watch much live anymore, and Fast Forward through the boring parts later.
We used to have a yearly bash for the Bristol night race, but after the COT, The Chase and wondering what the hell we just watched after the first race after the repave we no longer have a bash for the Bristol night race.
I used to be in a couple fantasy pools each year for Nascar, but after Brain France, The COT, The Chase and the morons in the Fox booth I lost all interest in Nascar pools.
It’s not the economy, but the product on the track and the clowns running the show.
I agree with Bad Wolf, for over 10 years between 25-30 friends from around the country would meet in Bristol in Aug. this year NO One renewed their tix. Alot of us “older fans” have been complaining for years about the product and the chase and nascar just “laughed at us”. Well now we are voting with our money to no long buy “this product” and nascar is blaming the economy. nascar open your eyes and clean out your ears this dog don’t hunt.
Well, Bristol can’t sell tickets. Let’s movet he races away from Bristol.
According to your data listed above NASCAR better move a race from Bristol and send it to Pocono. The only tack to climb in attendance over the past 5.
I’m still at a complete loss as to why NASCAR doesn’t implement a pit road speed limiter—and their BS argument that it can lead to traction control is absurd, it can be a completely sealed unit that’s provided by NASCAR out of driver and crew’s reach, checked before and after each race. The ONLY reason pit road speed limits exist is safety, so NASCAR should be doing their utmost best to make sure it works right—rather than giving out twelve penalties a race, how about none, so these guys can race?
Of course we know why—it mixes up the field, and with most races being boring and having little competitive passing, sometimes the only way to mix up the top 5 is to have speeding penalties drop them to the back. Sucks.
A common theme in all the above responses, and I do agree: nascrap, now a days, sucks!!
I cannot believe you are comparing NASCAR to college football attendance. Made me want to quit reading the article right then. Then you just throw out two stats from U of Michigan and U of Alabama, pretty extensive research there to form an opinion around. Sorry but I disagree completely with your reasoning or lack there of in this piece.
I saw Dutton’s article concerning Stewart’s “grumpiness” with the media lately…although he has a “history” with the press..maybe this time it’s got nothing to do with the press persay…there are so many things that go on in a person’s life that isn’t associated with their “place of work” but we are human and if things are pressing on us hard enough..it crosses over to our “outside life”. I can’t imagine being in a position the drivers are..having to air their lives weekly before the public..and while it IS part of their job..it has to be difficult at times. AND..sorry guys..I have listened to alot of the press conferences..and alot of the media DON’T do their homework..and the questions are inane and really silly at times…I get tired of listening to them myself. I don’t know..maybe someone in the press knows what the deal is..maybe someone ticked Stewart off royally..who knows…I am sure it will all smooth out eventually… it certainly isn’t the end of the world!
My neighbor and three of his friends went to Bristol last weekend. He said it was unseasonably cold there and that he froze his ass off all weekend. I don’t know how much that affected attendance, but I’m sure it didn’t help.
Wonderful article that takes the “checkered flag” with statistics. Numbers do not lie, except to Eddie Gossage, Bruton Smith and Brian France, in their rainbow colored glasses.
Pertaining to the pit road speeding penalties. Certain drivers (no names listed) NEVER get a speeding penalty. I like the fact that nas$car is listening to fans and changing the COS back to where we MIGHT get some side by side racing at tracks that seem to discourage it. The chase, the COS, and Brian France seem to be the common theme regarding the slow death of nas$car. No, not seem to be. They are the reason. The re-paving they did at Bristol and the crappy results should wake the powers that be up.
@Bad Wolf, I agree with you 100%
@CarlD Your neighbor froze his ass off “all weekend”? Really? it was 70 degrees on Saturday, is he from the tropics or something? Even Sunday wasnt bad, we had a few sprinkles, but the temps were in the 60’s. Have him go sit at a race in the 40’s or worse than he can bitch!
Bristol is not Bristol anymore. Sad but true. I have been attending Bristol races since 95 and races in general since 1980. While I am still relatively young (early 40’s) I think I fall in the group of long time fans. The racing is BORING!!! Bristol was one of the places you were always guaranteed a fabulous show. But someone decided reconfiguring the track would be better. Way wrong answer. Never did I think Bristol’s dates would ever be in danger, but after this past Sunday, if you think their spring date is safe your crazy.
And let me repeat, while off the subject, I am from KY and do not want to see Kentucky get a cup race! We need more unique tracks on the schedule, not more 1.5 mile cookie cutters!
it’s the products and na$car in general.
i have a friend in maine, she usually comes south every other year and we attend races. she hasn’t been south in 4 yrs. she was talking about the fall race at ams. i told her i’m ok with it but before i plunk down my hard earned cash for seats i want to see how the car with the spoiler runs and if races are any better. this past week she said “why bother, its’ all the same”.
then on top of it you’ve got jr who needs to be yelled at to motivate and then doesn’t get it, he thinks he does enough. well with an attitude like that “why bother”. i think i read where dw suggested he run a truck race or two. jr says he doesn’t need to run truck race and sees no need in doing so. heck, his father would have raced bicycles for a trophy. think jr doesn’t like loose race car cause he’s forgotten when he started and running dirt tracks? there’s plenty of racers who will run dirt race on their weekend off. jr doesn’t even do the stewart charity race.
attitudes like that make jr fans that were his father’s feel like “why bother”. driver doesn’t care. he’s got enough money.
it’s real simple na$car….it’s the product, it’s tires that won’t last a tire run, it’s high concession prices, high hotel prices. why spend hundreds of dollars when i can watch at home and get a nap in on the couch vs. napping in the stands?
A few points on attendance:
-While not every person at a college football game is a student or alum and not every person at a NASCAR race is poor country folks, the difference in demographics does make for a very poor comparision.
- It would be interesting to see the progression in ticket prices for the past ten years for the tracks from which you sampled attendance. I just checked up on Dover and a ticket that cost me $38 ten years ago (when I was a junior enlisted military guy now costs $96 (156% increase; in that time-frame the salary of an E-3 has gone up “only” 40%).
-With all that said, I do agree with the point that there’s more to the downturn in attendance than the economy. There’s a lot else going on here.
The one true comparison is the U of MI. Attendance stayed steady and the past three seasons or more have not been “good” seasons. The football team sucked. Yet attendance did not suffer thus we were still entertained.
My neighbor is from upstate NY, so go figure. Maybe living in SC for the past year or so has already changed him. He was camping in a tent, so maybe it was the nightime cold he was complaining about. I dunno.
It may not be the only reason, but the economy is definitely a big reason for the decline in entertainment attendance. There is an old saying that “you can prove anything with numbers or the Bible.” If you wanted to make a really unbiased comparison why didn’t you also list the attendance figures for Michigan State, Auburn, and some other football programs?
There are probably 100 elephants in the room. What else can they/you do but ignore them and hope they just quietly disapear over time? Talking about the elephants would open up a big can of really ugly worms. Its obvious they/you can’t go that route.
Nobody has mentioned this but points racing is really hurting the races at Bristol. Everywhere really. Guys are more worried about points for the almighty Chase than trying to get up front to win a race. Before the Chase, in order to win the Championship you had to get more points than the other guys for all the races. Now its just get enough to get in and don’t worry about trying to win. The car doesn’t help either but points racing has hurt the product alot
Since the “common template” car and now the CoT, I just can not stand it any longer. I long for the days when Jack Roush would lobby for changes to the T-Bird to make it more compedative to the Lumina and later the Monte Carlo. I have not bought a die cast since the change to the CoT, I do not own one, I do not want one. When Brian France leaves, I will return. OH, and lets not forget selling N. Wilksboro, Rockingham, and to some extent, Darlington down the river.
I have been a fan since the late 60s,going to Richmond before it was paved and other tracks in the spring when one day it was 70 and the next icey and snowing.I have read many reasons for drop in attendence.I myself have not renewed my season tickets to martinsville or richmond and not due to economy,Jimmy Johnston winning all those championships/races,hotel cost.I basically lost interest since restrictor plates,coookie cutter tracks,poor tv analysts/time scheduling,cot,to many rule changes,garanteed top 35 but most of all Nascar turned their back on the fans.I also put track owners in that same catagory with price gouging,track closures and race relocation.Tom can work out on your abacus how much they have lost with all these great inovations?Thanks for the time and space.
All i know for sure is that the decline in the popularity of NASCAR began almost exactly the day that Brian France took over and FOX came on board . Coincidence…… i doubt it .
I will begin by saying that I am a blindly-focused Jr. fan. I have not agreed with some of the calls Lance has made and said so, especially last fall. On the other hand, I was very happy to see him stand by Jr. in the intro events before the race. He doesn’t have to and he is not there to get his picture on tv. Good for Lance! :) It is a good thing that some of the people talking about the language didn’t have to grow up with my big brother. With all of Nascar’s money I wonder why the timers are not a constant steady speed instead of timing lines…? The gizmos are on the cars already and they have to work for the Race Traxer. Seems odd.
You can blame Brian France for a lot of things, but it was Burton Smith who set out to and did kill North Wilkesboro, with the help of Bob Bahre and the members of the media who knowingly or unknowingly bought their lies.
Progressive banking has ruined Bristol and turned it into a mini Michigan. Not sure what they can do about that but they need to do SOMETHING to fix it. When they do, the place will sell out again poor economy or not.
Poster Mark is spot on.
I like the side by side racing since the repaving ( not a fan of $100 tickets for demo derby ). I believe the cot and the chase have hurt Bristol more then the repaving.
I think all the cookie cutter tracks was the start of the decline but at least you could always look forward to the short tracks. Now theyve changed bristol and there is no longer racing there. What they need to do is bring back N.Wilksboro and Rockingham and give Darlington back its labor day date .Nascar trying to get into every big market has hurt them.
I didn’t watch Bristol race. Did watch some of the “Pot Hole Bowl” from Daytona. Alot of what I’ve read I agree with. For years other sport tried to figure out a way to model NASCAR’s success, then someone came along and decided to try and copy other sports, ie play offs, etc. I don’t watch anymore because its no longer a race, its a SHOW. The top 35 crap is just that, CRAP. It is now a spec series, all the same cars. Most of the drivers are muli-millionaires, they are well paid whether they dig hard every lap or not.Its got nothing to do with RACING any more, its just a BIG MONEY MACHINE, not doing well lately. And as for Brian France, well, lets just say that if he were to cut off his own head, he wouldn’t be any dumber. Well that’s enough for this rant, its getting late.
the chase sucks look how many drivers got hosed out of a championship
I agree with tim, the cookie cutters are a large contributor to the fact that races can become boring. The chase and resultant points racing certainly has exacerbated that as well. Me? I don’t really care who wins the championship. I care about who won the last race and I want to see good racing for that win.
On another note, I am sick and tired of being told what I should like by “the media.” Apparently the flocks of people becoming disinterested in Nascar are as dumb as the day is long. “You should be grateful that you can witness JJ making history.” Oh yeah? I’ve got two words… “boring… predicable.” I’m also told that I should also be thankful that people are not winning races by laps and laps… maybe that’s because wins don’t really count for much these days. My question is “Why did I like nascar racing so much more in the ESPN and TNN era?” My advice to Nascar and it’s lap dog media members, WAKE UP and seek professional attention before you bleed to death.
Just LMAO that attendance is up at the track “most hated” by media & many drivers.
I have season tickets for texas, but hotel prices stop me from going anywhere else. So for me it is partly due to hotel price gouging.
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