The headline says what I am thinking. NASCAR is in trouble and here are five reasons why.
Title Sponsor issues: Brant James’ story in USA Today paints a bleak picture about the new title sponsor of NASCAR’s top series. When Sprint announced that they were leaving the sport, NASCAR was hoping to get a 10 year, $1 billion deal from a new title sponsor. According to James’ story, it looks like NASCAR will get less than what Sprint is paying in 2016 which is $60 million. When you think about it, if they get $40 million to be the title sponsor and Hendrick Motorsports is getting $30 million to be the sponsor of Dale Earnhardt Jr. what does that say about the future of the series?
Age of Ownership: The big name owners in the Sprint Cup series are getting up in age. Roger Penske, Richard Petty, Joe Gibbs and Jack Roush are in their 70s, Richard Childress, Gene Haas and Rick Hendrick are in their 60s and Chip Ganassi is 58. They are racers who have become successful owners. Sooner or later, these owners are going to want to get out of the business and who is there to replace them? There have been investors who have come in to “save the day” for struggling teams. George Gillette came in to save Evernham Motorsports and Rob Kauffman bailed out Michael Waltrip Racing. Neither team exists today because Gillette ran out of money and Kauffman got tired of throwing good money into bad. NASCAR isn’t growing its bench in the XFINITY series because the owners of the top teams are Cup owners. Who will be the next group of car owners?
Empty seats: When I was at the New Hampshire race, it was a beautiful sunny day in the 60s. The Patriots and Red Sox were out of town. Perfect conditions for a sellout. The grandstands were half empty. It has been the same throughout most of the season. Richmond, Charlotte, Daytona and Dover have all taken out seats and they still are empty. Unless the fans start filling the seats again, there is trouble on the horizon.
TV Contract: The money that came from the latest TV deal with Fox and NBC brings $1 billion into the NASCAR bank account, but where they are placing the races is hurting. Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network are fledgling networks and are using NASCAR to attempt to build a fan base. NASCAR fans are a creature of habit. When you have to hunt for where the races are being televised it’s not a good thing. The TV ratings continue to fall off and it is hurting the growth of the sport.
Who will speak the truth: These are my observations. The question is when or will you ever hear anyone in NASCAR talk about these observations? When you hear anyone from NASCAR talk, all is good, nothing to see here. When you hear the talk show hosts on SiriusXM radio speak, all is fine and I wonder if they really think that way. Or, is it because they receive paychecks from Motor Racing Network, owned by International Speedway Corporation that they hold back their opinion? Who in the garage will speak the truth now that Tony Stewart is retiring? The owners created the Race Team Alliance and worked with NASCAR for the Charter system, but is it just putting a band-aid on a wound that is gushing blood?
NASCAR is in trouble. I hope that someone in the offices in Daytona Beach and Charlotte is working to fix these problems for the future of the sport we love.
As we head to Talladega, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson are safely in the Round of 8 and the other 10 Chase drivers will hope to survive. I hate having Talladega in the Chase. There will be a driver or two eliminated Sunday afternoon because of someone else making a mistake. Ten drivers are losing sleep all week knowing that their chance at a championship could end because a non-chaser makes a mistake in the pack. It cheapens the Chase.
That is the View From My Recliner. I would like to hear what you think.