Talladega was a ratings bust. Talladega. For fans who follow the sport, those four Stewart-Haas cars up front, doing what they had to do all day long, was something to behold. For those who simply tune in to watch incredible action, they had to wait for the final 20 laps for the payoff. However, they had to have tuned in to witness either. They did not even bother. That is troublesome.
Now, we have Kansas coming up on Sunday. Kansas. Winning the Hollywood Casino 400 will not exactly mean anything more than finishing first at some generically named Cup event that no one will remember in a few weeks. It has the marquee value of actress Lecy Goranson headlining a major Hollywood production. None. In fact, Charlotte’s roval and Talladega were the last events of the season able to stand on their own. Do not expect anyone new to watch these final four races. Zip.
NBC did its part. Bringing Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the mix along with Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte, Rick Allen and the rest of the talented crew finally gave us a broadcast that is interesting to tune to watch on its own. If you want to learn stuff, they can educate. Maybe it is the audience that has changed, that has become dimwitted, unable to focus, unable or unwilling to learn, complaining about the stupidest things for the stupidest of reasons. Maybe.
Then again, old-time fans have been thinking that for years. Maybe decades. Stock cars are no longer stock. The champion is no longer determined by being the best over the season. The playoff concept was introduced. Stage points. Selling out tradition (the brief termination of the Southern 500, the Firecracker 400, the World 600) in favor of commercialization. Maybe both NASCAR and what today constitutes many of its potential fans, the society as a whole, has changed to the point the sport is unable to keep them in the seats or sitting in front of their televisions. Maybe too many would rather let someone else do their driving, or some artificial intelligence, than sitting behind the wheel of a car themselves to enjoy the experience of hitting the open road. Maybe.
If you are not a fan, a follower of the action, someone who would love to have the talent to be able to hit the track themselves, maybe you just do not get it. I feel the same way about soccer and basketball. At least I have some ideas as to changes that might interest me in the former. Get rid of the off-side rule, push penalty shots much further back than just 12 yards out, and banning the effeminate diving by grown men hitting the ground over nothing more than a fart might give me some reason to watch the action. Unfortunately, I am fresh out of ideas as to what NASCAR needs to do to attract former and future fans back to their venues and telecasts. If the potential of mayhem on every lap does not do it, I do not know what will.
I know Kansas, on its own, is not part of the answer. What is?
1. ARIC ALMIROLA – ROUND WIN – 3087 Pts – 1 Win
I wish to thank my teammates for all of their support.
2. CHASE ELLIOTT – ROUND WIN – 3066 Pts – 2 Wins
Kansas is next, but he is already preparing for Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix.
3. KEVIN HARVICK – 3128 POINTS – 7 Wins
Put the pedal to the metal but he needed a chance to coast for a few laps.
4. KYLE BUSCH – 3111 POINTS – 7 Wins
Was in self-preservation mode until the end, when they finally got him.
5. JOEY LOGANO – 3104 POINTS – 1 Win
If he should pick up some stage points and a decent finish, he should be fine.
6. KURT BUSCH – 3095 POINTS – 1 Win
I loved the Talladega finish but as for Kurt, not so much.
7. CLINT BOWYER – 3086 POINTS – 2 Wins
Roar that engine and click those ruby red slippers as the lad is back in Kansas.
8. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 3083 POINTS – 4 Wins
How he wound up above the cut off line had a lot to do with fuel…or lack of it for others.
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 3065 POINTS – 3 Wins
Those three wins mean nothing coming to Sunday. A fourth would be very, very nice.
10. RYAN BLANEY – 3061 POINTS – 1 Win
A very bad day for Bowyer or Truex would be helpful…not wishing bad on anyone, but…
11. KYLE LARSON – 3047 POINTS
Being creative with repairs cost Larson 10 points. Now he is in Bowman country.
12. ALEX BOWMAN – 3015 POINTS
A win by Bowman this Sunday would top even what Almirola managed to do last weekend.
13. DENNY HAMLIN – 2136 POINTS
Being the best of the rest is his remaining goal.
14. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2128 POINTS
Jimmie and Chad are down to four races to extend that string of seasons with at least one win.
15. AUSTIN DILLON – 2124 POINTS – 1 Win
Some ran out of gas on Sunday. Dillon’s quest ran out of gas a few weeks ago.
16. ERIK JONES – 2108 POINTS – 1 Win
We need the likes of Jones and 17-year old Hailie Deegan to become future marquee attractions.
17. RYAN NEWMAN – 641 POINTS
Had a better season than some, but hopes for better yet with Roush in 2019.
18. PAUL MENARD – 619 POINTS
Returned from two laps down to record a Top Ten at Talladega.
19. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 615 POINTS
Third best last week as some of the season’s also-rans finished their runs in lofty positions.
20. DANIEL SUAREZ – 614 POINTS
Ranked 20th last season. Ranked 20th this season. If nothing else, the lad is consistent.