NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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
Monday March 3, 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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday May 1, 2013
Did You Notice?… How already, nine races in, we can make some judgments on NASCAR’s Silly Season moves? In an unusual 2012, there were only three deals in which drivers moved into different major rides: Matt Kenseth, to the No. 20 of Joe Gibbs Racing; Joey Logano, to the No. 22 of Penske Racing; and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to the No. 17 of Roush Fenway Racing.
Let’s tackle each one at a time. Kenseth’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing was dictated, for him, by sponsorship security: Home Depot and Dollar General will provide the funding for the No. 20 to race for years to come. In contrast, he was dealing with piecemeal backing at his longtime ride, the No. 17, and had changed crew chiefs several times since Robbie Reiser was promoted at the end of 2007. The loyalty, despite a strong relationship with the last of those replacements (Jimmy Fennig) just wasn’t the same.
Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing wanted to see if, after four years of struggle following the departure of Tony Stewart, it was the replacement, Joey Logano that was the problem. They had changed virtually everything else, from crew chief (Greg Zipadelli to Jason Ratcliff) to engines to engineering, but the No. 20 car always seemed to lag behind its two counterparts. Logano went 0-for-4 on making the Chase, winning just two races, while teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch would sometimes double that total in the course of a month.
Nine races in, it seems like JGR made the right choice. Already, Kenseth is blowing Logano out of the water in every category imaginable. In fact, Kenseth’s numbers in just under three months are outgunning Logano’s stats over three years:
Poles – Season High
Average Start – Season High
Those last two numbers, especially, tell the tale as Kenseth was never a strong qualifier. He only had eight career poles entering this season, in 14 years, and won his only Cup championship (2003) with a mediocre average start of 21.7. It’s clear that there’s been instant chemistry here, with JGR and both driver and team are motivated to prove their worth.
So does that mean Sliced Bread was a bust as a prospect? Well, it’s hard to say. Here’s a look at his numbers this season, driving the No. 22, compared to AJ Allmendinger in 2012 and Kurt Busch the year before:
As you can see, the results are all over the board; Logano, despite three top-5 finishes, has not yet flashed the consistency of Busch nor qualified as well as he did with the No. 20. At Penske, he’ll get more benefit of the doubt, especially following the roulette-calling type of driver merry-go-round that happened with the Shell / Pennzoil car. But of the three main drivers, Logano trails in laps led (45) and has not been in contention to win besides Fontana. Meanwhile, Sam Hornish, Jr., the other candidate to fill this seat, has won once in the Nationwide Series, leads the standings there and qualified fourth in his only Cup start this season (Kansas). Was it worth it to spend the money for Logano over going in-house? There’s a long way to go, just yet but based on these results you’d have to say that’s debatable.
And as for Stenhouse? The rookie, through nine races has posted a mixed bag of results. He’s got seven top-20 finishes, establishing an important level of consistency you don’t normally see out of first-year Cup drivers. At Kansas, he led 26 laps and could have been in position to win without an untimely caution flag. A look inside the stats shows he’s smack in the middle compared to some of his recent contemporaries:
Cup Series Average Finish – Through Nine Races of Rookie Season
Jimmie Johnson: 12.6
The difference between Stenhouse and these others is almost everyone had at least one top-10 finish at this point. That’s the difference in his competition versus girlfriend Danica Patrick, as well; he’s actually losing the Rookie of the Year race by one point. Perhaps the most damning statement, though is that 19.3 average finish pales in comparison to Kenseth’s 8.7, through nine races last season in the same car. The former champion had already won twice, secured five top-5 results and led 135 laps.
It’s hard to expect that type of production from a rookie. However, it’s clear that Stenhouse, while keeping the car in one piece still has a long way to go in order to reach NASCAR’s top-tier level of competition.
Did You Notice?… The disastrous TV ratings numbers amongst the 18-to-49 age demographic? I mention this point because the Daytona 500 seemed to showcase an uptick in NASCAR interest amongst the younger crowd. There was an eight percent increase amongst men in that age group watching, up to a 6.4 rating while for women 18-to-49 it was a robust 3.2. Needless to say, those numbers have faded drastically since. The audience at Richmond posted just a 1.3 in that category, paling in comparison to the 1.8 posted by Round 1 of the NBA playoffs (on an unimportant night, to boot). Other programs with higher numbers, from this Monday night alone included the WWE (1.7), Love and Hip Hop Atlanta 2 (a VH1 show – 1.5), and MTV’s Teen Mom II (1.7).
Add that to one of the most powerful articles written in 2013, a Monte Dutton piece about the current malaise within NASCAR and its youth problem is no longer hiding under a rock. So why are young people looking elsewhere for entertainment? Monte claims they’re not just into sports; but as part of that generation, I respectfully disagree. Virtually everyone I know in Philadelphia has a deep-seeded allegiance to a professional team, whether it’s the Eagles (football), the Flyers (hockey), or the Phillies (baseball). NASCAR just isn’t a part of their radar screen.
“Why” is something I’ve also given a lot of thought to, as of late as one of the few people still young enough to be in that age group writing consistently about the sport. My answer always goes back to evolution. Take the Eagles, for example; after a few bad seasons, Andy Reid is out as coach and Chip Kelly has come in with a whole new offensive philosophy. The NFL Draft guarantees seven new players on the team, at minimum; personnel turnover, year to year always changes the game and gives different reasons to watch. Sure, the best players (LeSean McCoys) of the world will stick around, for up to a decade but the roster is never exactly the same.
Let’s compare that to NASCAR, where for three seasons we had a Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year that did little more than start-and-park. For three-plus years, there have been no new ownership groups that have come in and made a serious impact. Jimmie Johnson has won five of the last seven championships; his employer, Hendrick Motorsports has captured ten of the last eighteen. That type of stability at the top, with little room for new faces to come in and grow helps feed into the idea the product is stale. Driver development, with no new competitive cars reached a standstill; superstars merely switched teams or locked themselves into long-term deals. The economy, combined with expenses priced sponsors out of the market, limiting new opportunities for well-known companies to get involved. Even if they did, it was for a one-race deal, limiting the loyalty fans have for sponsors they used to throw their wallets at. The Car of Tomorrow, limiting innovation put crew chiefs in a box and led to the same speeds and the same setups. NASCAR’s Chase, limiting the effectiveness of the regular season ratcheted down the aggressiveness for top teams; 26 races turned into little more than a six-month test session. Add it all up and you’ve got a ferris wheel, working perfectly that flat out stopped in the middle of the ride.
It’s been that way for several years. What would you do if you were stuck? At some point, you’d stop waiting for the ride to resume and simply get off. That’s what the old fans have done; and for any new ones? They’re looking for shorter games, flashy personalities, fast-paced action. Single-file, for 300 of 400 laps just doesn’t cut it when college basketball can compact two halves of quality competition into two hours. NASCAR, other than trotting out Danica Patrick doesn’t have the type of new, shiny objects that appeal to the ADD generation. It’s also notable the sport is behind in terms of diversity. Jason Collins became the first gay athlete in a major professional sport this week; NASCAR is still waiting for its first, impactful modern-day African-American. When you can count the number of non-white contributors on one hand, that’s a major problem. The world is changing, and while NASCAR is trying (see: Gen-6) too many of its practices are stuck in the 1950s. Change is coming… but it needs to happen quicker. You can’t have yearly declines forever and then expect the same types of cash in your next TV deal.
Did You Notice? … Quick hits before taking off:
- Juan Pablo Montoya’s fourth-place finish may have saved his job at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, especially if the NASCAR team is potentially on the block to be sold. The big question now is, if both he and Jamie McMurray keep performing will there be enough money to expand to a third car with Kyle Larson?
- Paul Menard is having one of the quietest “good” seasons in recent memory. Who would have expected he’d be the only one to complete every lap of every event after nine races? With Richard Childress Racing coming out on top Saturday night, with Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton showing signs of life with Luke Lambert there may be time yet to salvage their year.
- No one needs to avoid the “Big One” more this weekend than Tony Stewart. Everyone thinks the No. 14 car is just going to wake up, midstream and start winning races. Did we forget the gigantor distraction that is running the first NASCAR dirt race since 1970, at Stewart’s track in the middle of the summer? Wake-up time needs to happen, fast and you don’t want to be 20th in points in a year where it’s going to take two, maybe even three victories to crack the “Wild Card” category.
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©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I think one of the problems is that the drivers have to get back into the business of selling themselves in the mainstream media. I think we can all agree that people don’t watch the racing just for the sake of the race; you have to have a driver to root for. I got involved with NASCAR in 2005 because I saw Jamie McMurray on an episode of MTV Cribs. He gave a tour of the house he owned in Statesville, NC. If NASCAR is going to attract younger viewers, they are going to have to market the drivers in the media that attracts the kids.
I have been talking about this youth problem for years now. I know of NO young person with the slightest interest in Nascar. It doesn’t even enter their mind. And it’s the same on the local sports radio talk shows.
Say what you want but having Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick win a sixth championship is the LAST thing Nascar needs. It doesn’t move the needle.
I was hoping that Trevor Bayne would get a real shot and be able to join Kyle and Brad in adding some excitement but unfortunately it hasn’t happened.
And the chase?…..yeah, that’s really bringing the kids in isn’t it?
Without driver/team turnover you need the schedule to be shaken up to provide something fresh and exciting. This, IMO, is the number 1 problem with NASCAR today. The cup series is essentially locked in to going to certain tracks – it’s boring and predictable, especially when 1/3 of the schedule consistently puts out a poor product. The new car is a step in the right direction, and if they follow through with adding more short tracks to the Truck schedule (greenville, myrtle beach) that will generate more interest there. The nationwide series last year was refreshing with all of the fresh faces in victory lane and contending for wins(even counting Logano who doesn’t win at the cup level that often). This year were back to cup drivers dominating and it’s gone stale.
Don’t blame the drivers. NASCAR has been ruined by Brian France, just like Tony George wrecked U.S. open wheel. It’s the management, baby!
Nice article, Tom. I agree with most of your points. It’s a shame that NASCAR isn’t listening, no matter they made the change to the ugly car. I don’t for one minute believe however they did it all on their own. It was pressure from the manufacturer’s.
as far as audiences, I thought Mike’s article was very well done, too. I just saw another one this morning from Autosports Extremists regarding the oversaturation of the market. Like others, I’m not interested in watching Johnson win another 10 race trophy.
these are all things that I, as a fan, have observed so it amazes me that the people running NASCAR are so blind to it.
Plus, the TV coverage is abysmal. Whether it is from Fox or ESPN, the coverage lacks the fun factor. There is too much time spent on too few drivers or just plain blah blah blah to hold my interest any longer for hours on end and I am not one of the ADD generation, but I’m not willing to be put to sleep either watching lap after lap of follow the leader knowing that it is nothing but seeding for the chase (which I also despise as a way of determining a champion).
The clueless people running the sport who have made a lot of money need to think about what could improve things, not just where the next big check is coming from. The geese (the fans) have stopped laying golden eggs.
I’m a 30+ year fan of nas$car. Since Brain fart France took over, my interest has waned with each passing year. There are certain races I’ll watch. The parade racing at the 1 1/2 mile “cookie cutter” tracks are not viewed as “can’t miss” Sunday activities anymore. There’s so many other sports to watch. When nas$car decided they were going to compete with the “stick and ball” sports they shot themselves in the foot and have been coming closer and closer to the head over time. And the Hendricks-France doesn’t help the situation much. This one time “fanatic” doesn’t have the fire anymore. I’m one of the older fans that nas$car decided they didn’t need anymore.
Well said Pete !!
Wow, just wow..thats all I can say…wow.
Add in the fact that the NW series, which is supposed to showcase the up and coming drivers, which relate even more to younger viewers, have the same Cup drivers racing every week and winning every week.
No driver turnover in the Cup series, racing at all the same tracks every year, Cup guys winning all the NW races, and horrible race broadcasts really give no reason for the younger crowd to tune in, regardless of how many times FOX shows sparks underneath a race car or “The big one” in promos.
Why should young people be interested? In cars that look like something they wont own for ten years or more. More and more are not even getting drivers licenses. NBA/NFL/MLB/NCAA gives continuous action and is over in 3 hrs max. Plus the constant shilling of product that doesn’t pertain to them.So tell me why they should be interested. One thing is for sure, while those of us from the “old school” complain that Nascar isn’t what it was – if they don’t start drawing younger fans there will be no Nascar at some point.
Having to use the mute button due to dw , mikey ,larry, ham-man, and crsmyrs is driving away the mature market so how could it help with the youth market. nascar doesn’t care about the fans – they get the big $ from tv. The tv folks don’t care about the fans because they get $ from advertising ( a lot of which is nascar ) and think that they can keep showing 2 car shots while trying to hide the empty seats. Get rid of the waltrips and anyone else in tv that has a horse ( a car they own ) in the race, show the friggin race, stop telling the viewers what you think they want to hear, show all cars & sponsors not just the favorites, and then if nascar can start acting credible maybe the people that have been running away from the sport might think about leaning towards possibly stopping the running at least. What a joke it has become.
Do you folks remember when the truck series started and how awesome it was? They were fantastic!
And look at the state of the truck series now. Pathetic compared to back then. It’s almost as if Nascar WANTS to kill it. I mean, what more can be done to hurt it other than to just shut it down totally?
Nascar can forget the days of full seats at these mega tracks because the economy is going for a nosedive real quick. Most folks have NO IDEA what’s going to hit with the new health care laws and taxes. But it’s coming…..
Tom makes some great points here about NASCAR’s youth issue. Tom and I have actually discussed this before, and I think we are both in agreement that this is one of the 2 or 3 biggest problems facing the sport.
I agree with many of the comments here. NASCAR’s next step is to start getting back into the fold of mainstream media and start marketing these drivers to a younger audience.
As another one of those younger guys who write about the sport (I’m 20), this sticks out as arguably the most pertinent issue that NASCAR will face in the years that loom ahead of us.
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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