The Frontstretch: Did You Notice? ... Spoiling The Oil Sponsor Party, Home Is Where The Heart Breaks, And Speaking Up by Thomas Bowles -- Wednesday October 13, 2010

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Did You Notice? … The second, major primary sponsor cutting back their involvement in the sport? That’s the biggest worry I have following Tony Stewart’s press conference announcing Mobil 1 will appear on his car for a total of 11 races next year and beyond.

Really? That’s right, you heard me correctly: 11. To put the number in perspective, it adds up to less than one-third of the 36-race schedule, a shocking slash for a Fortune 500 company that was Sam Hornish, Jr.’s backer for 32 events this year at Penske Racing. Financial terms were not disclosed, as always, but you’ve got to believe this deal closed late, at a bargain basement price with a whole lot of “pretty, pretty pleases” involved.

With the acquisition of Mobil 1 as primary sponsor next season, Tony Stewart is smiling from ear-to-ear…

For men like Stewart, I understand that beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to keeping up with the Joneses. Yet considering the lack of sponsorship news recently, my shock came when this announcement spawned a ticker-tape parade the likes of which included a packed house press conference; show cars; and a NASCAR Twitter party so intense you’d think Dale Earnhardt, Jr. just got someone pregnant. “Oh my God, my son got a job at 33 percent the rate it was last year! Let’s hire an ‘80s band, invite everyone in the neighborhood and bring the house down!”

Alas, there’s no real reason to be cheering in my opinion when you consider the trend of slashing races we’ve already seen from the sport’s biggest supporters:

- Budweiser (From 36 races in 2010 to 20 in 2011+)

- Mobil 1 (From 32 races in 2010 to 11 in 2011+)

- DuPont (From 26 races in 2010 to ?? in 2011+)

- Old Spice (From 14 races in 2010 to zero in 2011)

- Verizon (From 36 races in 2010 to zero in 2011)

Only Aaron’s has increased its commitment, jumping up to 30 events the next two seasons from 24 in a move that secures David Reutimann’s place with Michael Waltrip Racing through at least 2012. Unfortunately, that’s just not enough to stem the growing tide of concerns when top-tier corporations figure out they’ve got the upper hand over cash-starved, upper-class teams still looking to run their gargantuan efforts for virtually the same amount of money they always have. Combine that with the sport’s declining marketing value – ratings and attendance problems have a way of wrecking that mojo – and you’re left with a product that’s increasingly less attractive in what’s turned out to be a still-dragging recovery in this country.

While Sam Hornish, Jr. becomes a nervous wreck about his own stock car future, searching for a major company to back him while Stewart has three now sharing space on his car (Burger King, Office Depot, and now Mobil 1) for 2011.

At some point, you would think with the number of fully-funded cars shrinking drastically the cash bubble near the top would burst, right? Umm… let’s just say this move reminds us that’s not exactly happening yet. So while I’m happy for Stewart filling the space on his car, I’m far less so for the No. 77 that is likely headed towards closing up shop following the season, joining two Richard Petty Motorsports cars and God knows how many others on the chopping block. With fewer sponsors to go around, they need to be convinced to give a bigger commitment, not shrink it; so in many ways, this signing is a lose-win for a sport that desperately needs a big company like Wal-Mart, Macy’s, or someone out there to dump millions into it and say, “We believe in the future of your sport.”

Did You Notice? … The hometown Charlotte race isn’t exactly how it used to be? In past years, this week would serve two purposes: sewing up Silly Season loose ends, causing a media frenzy while introducing us to teams and drivers looking to get a head start on next season during the race. Old promoter “Humpy” Wheeler would pull some rabbits out of his hat back in the day, figuring out one-race deals with major car owners that showcased new faces on the grid, even superstars from other racing series looking to make a one-time dip into NASCAR. It was an old school way to draw excitement to an individual race, giving new kids on the block their chance to shine while not making it all that expensive for owners whose shops sit less than a 45-minute drive away from the track.

Sadly, neither one of these goals is getting achieved this year. Stewart’s sponsor unveiling is likely the biggest one you’re going to see over the next several days, with remaining free agents like Elliott Sadler, Scott Speed, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, and others waiting for money and rides to break their way and salvage careers standing delicately on the precipice of life support. As for big-time organizations like Hendrick, looking for the perfect, high-paying sponsor for the No. 24 car but handicapped by this New World, not-so-easy-anymore negotiation process means it could take until November, maybe even December to get a deal done. And notice we haven’t even brought up the two-word taboo nowadays: “Nationwide Series.” Should we even bother to go down that ugly road? And on a weekend where the “AAA” division finishes up its last four-race test of the Car of Tomorrow, how could you not time that with publicity surrounding more major changes within the division for 2011?

It’s the latest in a number of moves that always leave us scratching our heads. But this much we know for now: in a world where Silly Season is rapidly becoming a 24/7 affair, more questions than answers remain in the NASCAR bedroom at this time of year than ever before.

Starting with a disastrous tenure driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2009, Scott Riggs’ current career has degenerated to the point where he doesn’t have a choice but to take start-and-park. That is, unless he’d like to spend the rest of his career parking in front of an office and sitting at a cubicle…

And down in the kitchen, where the salad gets made there’s that unfinished business of promoting the race itself, becoming a business in its own right rather than a showcase for developing talent. Consider the extra Cup Series entries this Saturday:

- Robby Gordon (No. 07) second team start-and-park

- Scott Riggs (No. 81) second team start-and-park

- Bobby Labonte (No. 10), leaving a start-and-park team to ensure his brother’s car makes the field while the No. 09 (you guessed it!) start-and-parks

- Johnny Sauter (No. 23) Sprint Cup retread many times trying to qualify in a one-race deal

- Bill Elliott (No. 21), 55-year-old continuing his limited Wood Brothers schedule, easily the biggest “name” of the bunch and one guaranteed to go the distance

- Brian Keselowski (No. 92), struggling Nationwide Series owner who is hoping to use his Sprint Cup program to raise money and keep him from dipping into the red

OK, be honest; not exactly a list that makes your heart pound, right? Even with 51 cars trying to make the starting lineup, in a best-case scenario we’ll have no less than three start-and-parks. And unlike in the glory days, none of these part-time rides will even have an outside shot at the top 15.

So who does? My answer comes in the form of two words: status quo, in a world where ADD is increasingly the lay of the land. Need I say more?

Did You Notice? … Quick hits before we take off:

- OK, NASCAR is going to keep the testing ban going in 2011. So let me ask you this question: If you’re a new owner entering the sport, how in the world are you going to catch up to the teams in front of you? A handful of hours in practice each weekend isn’t enough to get it done, especially when engineers that don’t travel to the track make the biggest difference in overall speed nowadays. Just take a look at the final results sheet each weekend for oh, about every race since this ban came into existence. You’ll see a pattern.

Taking this one step further, let’s see what you’re telling a potential owner they’ll need to maybe get competitive in this sport with the rule in place. Step 1: $20 million dollars, minimum. A chassis and engine deal with a team who will likely assure they’ll finish ahead of you every week. Limited practice time and an inability to spend extra time and effort to catch up to those you’re competing against.

No wonder they can’t get anybody different to jump on board these days.

- There was a conspicuous absence from the Third Annual Jail ‘N’ Bail Tuesday night: Kyle Busch. How could you hold a jailbird auction event without the NASCAR fan equivalent of Dr. Evil? At least they roped runner-up Brad Keselowski into it, but the rest of the lineup weren’t exactly names that inspire Big Bucks, No Whammys on the Auction Block equivalent of Press Your Luck for a good cause.

Kyle Busch behind bars? You know every self-respecting fan, love or hate the guy, would pay to see it!

Now I’m not saying they should have canceled the darn thing because of it; this event is designed with the best of intentions, as all money raised goes to a Scholarship Fund in honor of former NASCAR official Brienne Davis. Each year, the charity helps an interested female attend one of nine Universal Technical Institutes around the country. But could you imagine the hubbub if this event “jailed” two bitter rivals in the same cell for hours? How about Denny Hamlin and Keselowski having to share some space? Or Keselowski and Carl Edwards? Busch and David Reutimann? Or Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and all the crewmen who’ve had to repair an entire fleet of wrecked cars for over a year?

I think these organizers have the right type of idea here; it just needs to be executed on a much grander scale.

- Interesting stat about the Charlotte race coming up this Saturday: only two races since Fall, 2003 have been won by a driver who started outside the top 10. And both of those were either fuel-mileage or rain-shortened finishes (Casey Mears and David Reutimann, respectively) that both occurred during the Coca-Cola 600-mile marathon of wacky. Saturday’s 500-miler has always been much more “run of the mill,” handing the edge to those capable of pulling off a primo starting spot in Thursday qualifying.

Looking back at the May race, we’ve got five of ten Chasers who were able to accomplish that feat: winner Kurt Busch, who started second, Jimmie Johnson (started fifth), Denny Hamlin (seventh), Kyle Busch (ninth), and Clint Bowyer (10th). Considering those numbers, you’d have to think this race will be the one in which the Johnson-Hamlin battle truly does begin to take center stage.

- Sunday’s Fontana ratings were off 30.5 percent – count it, 30.5 percent – compared to last Fall. Talk about a Debbie Downer after a great race, and here’s the kicker: even those who are down on NASCAR admit at least two of the four races so far surpassed expectations. Could you imagine the viewership if the series threw up four stinkers?

But for those who hate the sport’s playoff system, the ugly truth is not even an A+ edition at their favorite racetrack will cause them to tune back in the rest of the year. So what are hundreds of thousands of unhappy, disillusioned fans to do? Well, if you really want to bring change to NASCAR, you can’t do it by sitting on the couch, tuning out and walking away. Every time these people in power ask, “Why are the ratings down?” you need to barrage them with how you really feel – even if you think the answer’s so obvious my six-month-old nephew could point at the television and coo it.

That’s right, folks: it’s time for “Operation: It’s The Chase, Stupid!”

Every time you hear a driver, team owner, official, or sponsor representative crow about potential “changes” to the “Chase” or “questions” about why the fans are leaving in droves, it’s your job to email them with the subject line “It’s The Chase, Stupid!” How much you want to describe beyond that is up to you, but what you need to realize the way to get a goal accomplished nowadays is by strength in numbers. If the sport knew how to change itself and rope you back in, well, they’d have already done it; this epidemic of declining ratings didn’t happen overnight.

So if you care about the sport, aren’t watching but would love to get your old passion back the best way to help is to let others know why it’s gone. I know you think those emails go down a black hole, but trust me, more of the people that matter than ever are listening. And even if you still don’t believe in the power of NASCAR good, the never-ending desire of businessmen looking to make a profit alone virtually guarantees that your voices get heard.

All you have to do is speak up.

P.S. One word for Shane Hmiel: Godspeed. We’re thinking and praying about you every day, watching in awe as the strength and resilience you showed in overcoming mistakes is now carrying you through when you need it most of all.

Connect with Tom!

Contact Tom Bowles

Wednesday on the Frontstretch:
Mirror Driving: Nationwide Chaos, Chase Rebounders, And Turn Off The Testing Ban?
Beyond the Cockpit: Dissecting The Thoughts of A Racing Champion Anew
Uncovering the Truth About NASCAR’s Proposed Chase Changes
Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Fontana
Top 10 Unconventional Brian France Flag Calls
The Frontstretch Foto Funnies – Fontana, October 2010
Carey And Coffey: Too Little, Too Late For Fontana?

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
Thinkin’ Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


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10/13/2010 06:44 AM

Just tell everyone we hate the chase? Yeah, right. Every time fans do so, we are told to ‘shut up and watch’, and ignored by the suits in Daytona. If the ratings since the crapshoot started haven’t gotten someone’s attention by now, it looks like we’re beating a dead horse. For whatever reason, someone has decided that this abortion that has no place in a sport that doesn’t have one winner and one loser per ‘game’ is the best thing ever, whether the fans they depend on like it or not. Like the old saying goes, ‘You can lead a horse to water…’

10/13/2010 07:50 AM

Great sponsors like Aaron’s? Let’s see, they exploit folks that have bad or no credit and charge loan shark interest rates. It’s nice that Aaron’s supports NA$CAR. Birds of a feather or something like that.

The Chase sucks and continues to suck no matter how much His Royal Dumbass tweaks it.
Bill B
10/13/2010 07:56 AM

I think that the only thing that would get the attention of NASCAR is to boycott a race. If everyone that hated the chase just picked one race to not watch it might open their eyes. I just don’t see them listening to the fans or they’d realize how many loath the chase. All they understand is money. If the fans want change they will need to hurt NASCAR where it matters. As I have said before, there is a war going on right now between those that run NASCAR and the fans. They might think they have control but in the end the fan does because we have a choice, we can walk away or start watching the NFL. And from what I have read, many have.

10/13/2010 08:40 AM

Tom, I don’t know how much more obvious it could be that the playoff system is sinking the sport. A letter writing campaign would do the same thing all the articles and comments have done…make NASCAR push it even more.

As far as lack of sponsors…well, it would be nice if, say, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Firestone, Hoosier, Michelin, Texaco, Gulf, Arco, and probably about 50 other conglomerates could put their logo on a racecar without 100 NASCAR lawyers telling them what they can and can’t do right down to the size of the logo on the quarterpanel.

What a surprise that we have so many start-and-parks. Can’t get a sponsor to help buy tires but the prize money is nice!

10/13/2010 08:47 AM

Thom: Concerning your sponsorship (or lack thereof) comments, did you see Wind Tunnel this past week? They had a segment about the 2012 IndyCar chassis engine. It was stated that a team will be able to field a car with an engine for an entire season for around $1 million. The series is going to set the price of both chassis and engines to keep it capped.
Now I know that the IndyCar series faces it’s own struggles. Short fields and a lack of fans being two of the largest. But wouldn’t you think that at roughly 1/30th of the cost of na$car many sponsors will be salivating to get involved? Wouldn’t that entice more teams to field more entries? There certainly isn’t a shortage of drivers waiting for a ride. And with na$car continuing to drive fans away, wouldn’t you think that IndyCar could be in a position to capitalize on these disillusioned racing fans in EXACTLY the same way NASCAR did when the open wheel split debacle occured?

Now, on to your testing ban rant. How would repealing the testing ban help new owners catch up on the owners already at the top of the food chain? If you allow testing again, then the teams with the most money (those at the top of the food chain) will be able to test more and better interpret the data over the underfunded and upstart teams.
I fail to see how that could conceivably help to level the playing field. I can see how it would underscore the haves and the have-nots. Does anybody else fear the idea of Jimmie and Chad figuring out an even better set-up for the chase races?
It’s not even possible to allow the have-nots testing time while keeping the ban in place for the top teams, because the top teams would (or already do)have alliances in place with those teams. And any team without alliances in the start-n-park entries (read Jack Roush) would just hire 1000 lawyers to sue na$car for attempting to ruin his corporation.

Bill B: A lot of fans are boycotting every race, and the number seems to be growing every week. The boys in Daytona still don’t listen.

10/13/2010 08:54 AM

Why does the sport need more drivers and teams? With s&p cars it would seem to me that we need LESS drivers and teams per race.

If we cut the sport down to 35 teams there would be more crew members and equipment to go around. With more resources available to less teams this would level out the competition.

NASCAR isn’t sustaining at its current bloated level. Downsizing is key and would be a win win for NASCAR and its fans at the cost of drivers and teams who have no shot at being competative currently anyway.

10/13/2010 09:09 AM

By the way, Thom, your comments on Mobil1 are a little misleading. I wish I had read the BREAKING NEWS column on this website before commenting on your article.

Mobil1 will be the primary sponsor for 11 races, and a high profile associate sponsor for the remaining 25 races.
Now, I went to school a long time before this new-fangled math came out, but when I was there the equation 11+25=36, would have been considered appropriate.

Yes, you are correct in saying that Mobil1 is scaling back, but it was wrong to completely disregard the 25 races in which they will occupy every inch behind the driver’s door.

10/13/2010 09:15 AM

Buddy Holly got it right: I guess it doesn’t matter any more.

10/13/2010 09:16 AM


The chase didn’t drive you away. It didn’t drive me away. It didn’t drive the MILLIONS of fans who still watch away. So, it must not be the chase… Stupid.

Seroiously I’m not following your logic. NASCAR has MILLIONS of fans. True, there are more people who don’t watch NASCAR than people who do, but you can’t blame that on the chase. There are more people that don’t eat doughnuts everyday than those who do – and doughtnuts are delicious!!!

So, less people watch the Cup series now than they did 10 years ago. Ok, there has also been a decline in viewership of the two series that do not feature a “chase” format. You can’t look at one specefic factor and place 100% of the blame. Anyone who’s taken a basic statistics or logic course understands that correlation and causation are two seperate entities.

You know what, I’m blaming NASCARS decline in attendance on global warming… That’s right people RECYCLE or NASCAR dies!!!! I mean, with your logic Tom you can’t argue against that. NASCAR ratings have declined since Al Gore inveted the inter… I mean Global Warming!!! Its GLOBAL WARMING STUPID!!!!

Look at the whole stock care racing picture. You’re comparing the failures of one series to other failing series. Let’s examine what those successful series of racing do DIFFERENTLY than our failing ones (all of them, even the ones WITHOUT the chase). Then we can label the blame.

Kevin from PA
10/13/2010 09:32 AM

Imagine you inherited your dad’s pizza parlor. Within the first few months, you decide to change your dad’s recipe after a few people complained about the bland taste. After a few good years, the customers stopped showing up and your sales fell by 30%.

I would have to imagine that everyone reading this column would at least do something (ask customers why they left; go back to the original recipe, etc.)

I am about to make a statement that might sound as if I am being a smart butt or that I am making a joke. Sadly neither is true. The following statement is being made only on logic (and a sad sense that NASCAR will soon wither away to a 3rd tier sport).

I can only determine that Bill France is truly the biggest idiot in the world or the most arrogant.

10/13/2010 09:47 AM

Logic and opinion are not the same thing.

10/13/2010 10:12 AM

Boycott Old Spice bodywashes and deoderants. I used to use both but have switched to another brand as P&G decided to take their Old Spice marketing dollars away from NASCAR and instead show commercials with half dressed big black men riding horses backwards. Remember this the next time you shop.

Bill B
10/13/2010 10:16 AM

RE; Testing… Not allowing testing leads to arrested development. The team that was at the top when testing ended has a higher probability of staying on top if other teams aren’t allowed to better themselves. BTW… who was at the top the year prior to the testing ban starting? Was it perhap Jimmie Johnson.

Do you work for NASCAR? It seems you are one of the few that defend the chase and can never find fault with it. Are you a Jimmie Johnson fan? Because I can see why Jimmie fans would love the chase.

10/13/2010 10:19 AM

Randy, your opinion would be more valuable if you weren’t one of the people claiming that Dani-can’t-keep-her-car-from-spinning is going to be the savior of na$car.
Your logic is flawed. I believe that you have taken a great many basic classes and not even one single advanced class.

Millions of people (myself included) continue to claim that the current na$car leadership, the chase, and the disrespecting of the sport’s history is driving them away from the sport. The chronic drop-off during the entire season shows that these people (myself included) are serious. This is the example of causation. (You have anecdotal evidence from the viewer’s tuning out) The accelerated drop-off during the chase does indeed show a correlation between your anecdotal evidence (causation) and the reality of the sport. MORE people decided to watch LESS na$car once the chase began.
Since millions of people have given their anecdotal testimony as to the reason for their disaffection for na$car, while the “global warming” score remains at ZERO (you haven’t tuned out of na$car, although you are out of touch with reality) your logic is completely worthless, and the Frances, the chase, and their catering to ignorant morons, such as yourself, remain the vaild reasons behind the lack of interest in na$car right now.

Bill B
10/13/2010 10:25 AM

Also Randy,
If you make a bunch of changes to any system and the result is negative then you need to undo each to determine the cause (or causes).
NASCAR made a bunch of changes and things have gotten worse. The correct course of action would be to start removing some of the variables to filter out the main culprits.

BTW, given the huge drop in attendance and ratings, what is your plan… to “stay the course” until it rights itself or the ship goes down altogether? What steps do you think NASCAR should take to put smiles on their former fans faces. I am so reminded of New Coke by this conversation.

10/13/2010 10:34 AM

Kevin from PA

I hope you mean BRIAN France.

10/13/2010 10:39 AM

I am becoming a Johnny-One-Note, but I shall persevere about the chase:

It cannot be mended. It must be ended.

Saying anything more about is a waste of perfectly good English Language letters that may be employed for other, more useful purposes.

As to sponsorship since “NASCAR is /has been experiencing declining ratings and dwindling attendance” (or a close variant) has become a boilerplate part of many articles what do you expect? In my experience the people who make the recommendations on ad buys aren’t usually the top people, but somewhere way down the line — often fairly recent “college graduates” and they are more subject to the effect of the mantra being repeated ad nauseum to the point where it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, it is true, but it is not as true as it may seem. I think in the stock market the sport would be considered to be undergoing a “correction.” The correction became necessary in part because of bad decisions by Brian Duh Clueless AND by ISC and others who got greedy and believed the NASCAR bubble would never burst.

“Greed,” as Gordon Gecko observed, “Is a good thing. Greed works.” Yeah, that is true, but greed can also blow up in your face.

10/13/2010 11:12 AM

Bill B, yes, testing does arrest development. But at the same time, allowing testing does not assure equal development.
If a team can’t afford tires to run more than 30 miles of a race, where will they get the money to rent a track and test for hundreds of miles? If na$car allows for scheduled open tests, where will the money come from for the tires and fuel for those smaller teams to test? Since most of the start and parkers run some variation of HMS equipment, Rick could pay for fuel and tires, but that would help him more than it would help them.
Yes JGR, RCR, RFR, and HMS will be well represented, but the smaller teams will still struggle.
Also, the chances are equal, if not greater that HMS will be able to use testing to increase his stranglehold on the sport. Like it or not, he has 6 top teams to test for him and another 6 start-n-parkers that he can buy fuel and tires for in exchange for the notes. That equates to 12 teams running the HMS flag while testing compared with RFS (4), JGR (3), and RCR (3).

I’m not saying the testing ban is great, but the team that benefits the most from the ban, is the same team poised to benefit the most from its repeal. This is just another example of na$car’s million problems and zero solutions.

Carl D.
10/13/2010 11:43 AM


I like your idea of just reducing the field. There are so many start & parkers and guys with no chance at all of actually winning the race, they might as well get off the track so as not to be an on-track obstacle. There’s nothing magic about the 43-car field anyway. Then, Nascar can sell 35 franchises to the owners willing to spend the most money for them. It won’t resemble anything like the Nascar of 10 years ago, but what we have now doesn’t either.

Bill B
10/13/2010 12:16 PM

Your points are true but at least the JGRs, RFRs, and RCRs would have an opportunity to dethrown the 48 if they wanted to spend the money.

10/13/2010 12:23 PM

Drop the chase.

10/13/2010 12:49 PM

RANDY,when are you going to open your eyes and see that the CHASE was an unwanted and unnecessary change? I never hear anybody else that has anything good to say about it. And as for DANICA, she ought try the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Kevin in SoCal
10/13/2010 01:10 PM

Did you notice… How the people on this website, and several other websites, bash Fontana for being a boring race year after year, yet it still got the highest TV ratings out of all four Chase races so far? This year AND last year. What’s up with that?

Out of the other racing series without a Chase, how many are actually seeing increasing TV ratings? I only have heard of the Truck Series making gains. The Nationwide series is flat, and I have no idea about ARCA, NHRA, or Formula 1. Wait, the NHRA does have a Chase, nevermind.

Shoeman, I’m one of the few that likes the Chase. And I’m NOT a Jimmie Johnson fan. I just see it as more likely to produce close points finishes than letting one driver run away with it by 300 points as what’s happening in the Truck Series and Nationwide Series. It would be nice if they gave the “regular season” points leader a bonus of some kind, such as first pit stall selection during the last 10 races.

What was racist about Sadeworth’s comment?

10/13/2010 01:43 PM

Bill B: It’s true that the other teams can spend the money and have a shot at de-throning Jimmie and the 48. But I am more scared of Jimmie and the 48 getting an even better set-up for the chase races.

I don’t know what should be done, besides dropping the chase and giving Darlington its historic race back.

I think even those two changes would be seen as too little too late for most fans.

10/13/2010 01:48 PM

I tell NASCAR, ESPN and anyone I can that it’s the chase, stupid, but all you get back are the canned response — thank you for your comment. Until there is the equivalent of a palace coup and someone kicks Brainless France out on his keester, we’ll be stuck with the farce of a playoff system that 90% of the fans HATE. I used to never miss a minute of racing on TV no matter what channel it was broadcast on — now, I don’t watch the entire RACE, just the last 20 laps and yes, Fontana managed to have an exciting ending courtesey of a green white checker.

Randy – by far you are the most argumentative and rude poster I’ve seen on these boards in a long time. I second the question — do you work for NASCAR?

10/13/2010 02:06 PM

“The accelerated drop-off during the chase does indeed show a correlation between your anecdotal evidence (causation) and the reality of the sport. MORE people decided to watch LESS na$car once the chase began.”

A) Until you support your claim with FACTS (and I mean actual statistical data taken to prove your point) this is an opinion.

B) Lets assume your data is correct and you can prove it. This falloff during the “playoffs” is no different than any other sport. Once a casual fan’s team/driver is eliminated from championship contention they have a much smaller vested interest in the sport. It’s happening in baseball right now. I am sure the casual Tampa Bay fan is far less likely to intently tune in to watch the outcome of the next series. They just dont have anything invested in it. This is how playoff sports work. When you add Jr nation into this equation it becomes even more polarizing.

10/13/2010 02:11 PM

Too late—its beyond the point where it can get its mojo back.

10/13/2010 03:01 PM

A lesson in free market….
There is no holding steady. One business will go up while another goes down. NFL and other sports are gaining popularity, so Nascar will undoubtedly go down if they are on at the same times. The only way to rise again is to change something, expand or contract. Nascar has to keep changing or else it will go down. So the chase was not a good idea because of the loss in interest, so now they need to get rid of it and change something else.

And to those who complain about nascar not being like it was in the “good ol’ days”, you don’t understand free market. Nascar has to change to stay relevant.

Jim B
10/13/2010 03:17 PM

When I was youngster I thought the WWF was on the level and I it took me a while as an adult to find nascar is not exactly on the level either. My two kids showed zero interest in nascar until they finished school and got jobs and then they became bigger fans then me. However, it took them far less time to see all the skulduggery in nascar. I vote with those that think it is too late fix nascar. It is not going away, but the bloom is off so too speak.

10/13/2010 03:55 PM

Top 10 Reasons the Chase fails (in no particular order):

1.) The first 26 races mean nothing except test sessions for the Chase

2.) Points reset

3.) Chase is forced down our throats by the media beginning at Daytona in Feb.

4.) The race itself has become non important

5.) it was an effort to keep the ADHD fans interest but failed miserably

6.) Traditional fans want to see a 36 race champ not a contrived 10 race champ and have lost interest.

7.) TV coverage of the Chase is focused on Chase drivers only and other 31 teams are invisible.

8.) the racing itself on the track is bad

9.) Majority of Chase tracks are cookie cutters.

10.) Nascar is making a futile attempt at trying to compete with the NFL for ratings

Robin Sutliff
10/13/2010 03:57 PM

Too much reaching for a reason that ratings and attendance has fallen.

NASCAR just doesn’t have the same “cool” factor it did 5-10 years ago. Trying to change everything from race distance to playoff systems isn’t going to fix something that intangible.

10/13/2010 03:57 PM

I’m not an ‘old school’ fan but I seem to remember droves of fans complaining about the pre-chase era championship being locked up 5 to 10 races before the season ended… thus making the last few races irrelevant. I’m pretty sure thats why Nascar implemented the chase… to appease fans and ensure that the end of the season was as relevant as be beginning.

Thank god Al Gore invented the internet so now we all have a place to complain about how good things used to be. Oh wait… we used to complain then too.

10/13/2010 04:02 PM

This is a classic example of the old saying “it’s too late to close the barn door once the horse is out”.
The chase was just the straw that broke the camels back, and removing that straw doesn’t mend a broken back!!

10/13/2010 05:06 PM

Randy and Volcano: The facts are there. You can ignore them, as the both of you choose to do. But that doesn’t make them actually disappear, it just makes the two of you seem increasingly stupid with every comment. Congratulations on that.

When posters write and say, “I’ve had enough of the fake debris cautions,” then the TV ratings drop, it DOES tell you something. When they write in and say, “I hate the chase, I’m not watching anymore,” and the ratings drop, it tells a little more. When they write in and say, “I am sick and tired of na$car detroying NASCAR’s history, I quit watching,” then the ratings drop more, it tells a little bit more about the story. When they write in and say that, “Brian France is and idiot, and I won’t watch him destroy the sport that I loved,” and the ratings drop, you get a little bit more of the picture. When you step back and look at ALL of the statements and the precipitous drop in ratings the entire picture becomes clear.

Randy, as far as saying that because dropping the chase won’t restore the fanbase overnight, if ever, means that the chase isn’t the problem. That is completely retarded. While the chase has DEFINITELY chased the long-term hardcore fans (including me) away, dropping the chase doesn’t end their (including my own) lingering resentment over the chase, Brian’s incompetence, the destruction of the sport’s history, or the pandering to the ADD crowd (such as you).

Volcano, if the drop in ratings is just because certain fan’s favorite driver is locked out of the championship, WHY WERE THE RATINGS DOWN CONSISTENTLY FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON?!?

NASCAR Tuna, feel free to find me the last year that the championship was locked up 5-10 races before the end of the season.

Finally Thom, it is sad to see that you didn’t even acknowledge your own shoddy reporting when you said that Mobil1 would appear on Tony’s car FOR A TOTAL OF 11 RACES, when it will actually appear on the car for all 36 events. Your own credibility took a hit with that weak statement and failure to correct yourself.

Managing Editor
10/13/2010 05:11 PM

Jacob, a primary and an associate sponsor are two very different things. Mobil 1 was the primary for 32 races in 2010. They’re scaling back to 11 races at the primary level in 2011. What is there to correct?

Kevin in SoCal
10/13/2010 05:24 PM

Of course Kyle Busch wasnt at the Jail and Bail event. Not many people are going to pay very much to bail him out of jail.

10/13/2010 06:14 PM

Tom, Tell me again how much you like Jr….I seem to keep forgetting.

No Spin Gerry
10/13/2010 06:23 PM

When the races are on Tuesday or some are dropped from TV then and only then will Nascar wake up, well maybe

Sanborn Chase
10/13/2010 06:44 PM

There is nothing wrong with the current chase system. Leave it alone. I’ve enjoyed them all since it’s inception. 11 of the 12 are still mathematically in it. If there is no chase than the season is already over and you could give Harvick the trophy today.

10/14/2010 01:36 AM

HelmentBaby my comment was not meant to be racist at all.

Bill B
10/14/2010 07:33 AM

RE “- Then it seems as if the Chase isn’t the main issue.

If losing the chase won’t bring fans back in DROVES then I question if the Chase was the reason the fans left in the first place.”

Well the chase was the main cause but now it’s a matter of people being pissed that NASCAR has chosen to sell them out.

10/14/2010 09:12 AM

As far as Mobil 1 cutting the amount of races they sponsor…could it partly be sponsoring Stewart’s car is more expensive per race then sponsoring Hornish’s car? Let’s face it…it cost alot more for the sponsor to be on an A list drivers car then on a D listers… maybe Mobil 1 is cutting back..but I think per’s not as far off as you may think….

10/14/2010 10:02 AM

Mr. Managing Editor, The article states that, “Mobil 1 will be appearing on his car for a total of 11 races.” It doesn’t say that Mobil 1 will be the primary sponsor for 11 races. And since the TOTAL number of races that it will APPEAR on his car is actually 36, THERE WAS THAT TO CORRECT!!!


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