NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Fan Q & A: How Much Does Media Really Influence Viewership?

It seems like only yesterday, we were yearning for the racing season to start again. The offseason had dragged on for a long time and we were ready to hear the roar of the engines once more. Now, we have upon us our first off week. No Trucks. No Nationwide. No Cup. That’s probably a good thing, considering that it gives us all a chance to catch our breaths after Fontana.

Still, though, this break seems a little too soon — and too wide-ranging. Couldn’t we at least get an exhibition race? A Saturday shootout? Something? Anything? Come on, NASCAR, at least give us engines somewhere on Easter weekend!

Now, on to your questions:

“Do you think that the amount of media coverage for NASCAR might actually do more harm than good?” Mark

How so, Mark? I mean, really, when does NASCAR get universal media coverage, period? It’s not like it’s something discussed on all of the sports talk shows or a part of the national conversation. It’s really only relevant to those who care about motorsports.

Until this year. Between Danica’s Daytona run, the crazy crash in the Nationwide race, Hamlin’s injury, the fight, the rivalries … heck, NASCAR might actually be relevant to people now. They may not like it. They may not consider it a “real” sport, and they’ll still have plenty to say about it being a “redneck” one, but it’s relevant in the general discussion. That’s a huge leap for a series that, for the most part, flies under the radar as of late.

I’d also consider the people who might not give racing a second thought otherwise, yet who’ve heard about it week after week, day after day, since early February. They watch it. They like it. They stay. Now, multiply that by possibly a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand. I’m not saying it will happen all at once, but even getting this much attention in front of this many eyes is a great start.

Now, if you think it will do harm in terms of NASCAR doing more to try and keep these fans, in the form of implementing new procedures and rules, you might have a point. Then again, if officials know that maintaining a hands off approach is what brings fans in, they may leave well enough alone. I really can’t say for sure, considering the last time they did that (the Chase), almost no one was on board with their adjustments.

Honestly, my final answer is “no,” I don’t think it will do more harm than good. More fans or, at the very least, casual viewers is, I believe, a good thing. The sport can only grow from there. I hope they don’t get in over their heads and screw it up, but we’ll worry about that when we get there.

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Like anybody really wants a neutered, non-confrontational Tony Stewart. Please.

“Summer, why didn’t NASCAR penalize Stewart, Hamlin, or Logano for the things they did when they’ve penalized drivers for lesser things?” Damien

Damien, while I might not agree let’s give you what we know first. NASCAR’s John Darby, on Tuesday basically said it was a last-lap racing incident and they didn’t see anything between Hamlin or Logano that warranted a penalty.

As far as Stewart, Darby went on to say, “we backed away from micromanaging drivers’ emotions.” I guess that doesn’t apply to criticizing the Gen-6 car…

He went on to say that unless the drivers and crew get into a “hell of a fight” they see no reason to get involved. Basically, the “line in the sand” is wherever NASCAR dictates it to be at any given time. Physical altercations are fine, but verbal constructive criticism is frowned upon.

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Elliott Sadler’s stint in the Nationwide Series last year, and this year with Joe Gibbs Racing, has him in the best position possible to showcase his talents for a possible return to Cup competition.

Personally, I don’t get it either. My opinion is the less interference by NASCAR, the better. I’d imagine yours is, too. The only common denominator I can see is that one issue (Fontana) generated attention and eyes on the sport, but the Hamlin issue created negative press. That’s the only line in the sand I’ve noticed, and it’s probably going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

“Who is going to fill in for Denny Hamlin now that he’s out?” Various

Well. look no further than this very website! Sources have told Frontstretch that Elliott Sadler will be Hamlin’s primary sub and that an announcement is coming soon. You can read more about it here. Our Mike Neff also said, on SIRIUS Radio yesterday there’s a chance Brian Vickers will do a race or two — even with his commitment to Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55. Supposedly, the holdup has to do with sponsor Aaron’s and their desire to still have a connection with their driver while competing for Joe Gibbs Racing. Fed Ex is one of the few sponsors, left on the circuit that has a large degree of exclusivity on the car and does not like to share space with many associate sponsors.

That would be interesting considering the fact that Sadler went back to the Nationwide Series after an unsuccessful run in Cup for years. Perhaps he could earn his ride back … though it’s more likely he’ll only be there long enough to sub for Hamlin and maybe some random races scattered throughout.

But, hey, at least he’s back for now.

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