The state of NASCAR is a sad one; a lot of blame to go around
by Ryan O`Hara On Sun, Jun. 29, 2014
The word ‘change’ should be considered a curse word in the NASCAR world. All jokes aside, the Quaker State 400 failed to live up to its expectations, as expected. From my vantage point behind my television screen and microphone, attendance looked poignant. The state of NASCAR is a sad one, but fans and NASCAR should share the blame.
I pointed out on Twitter that this race was very difficult to broadcast. Aside from the head-shaking gaffes made by TNT and the poor coverage, the racing was mediocre at best. As a result, I had to pull random factoids out of my head to keep the flow running.
Apparently stating my opinion makes me a hater. After the race, I learned that in order to be knowledgeable about the sport, I need to never, ever talk poorly about anything NASCAR related. In other words, I need to shut up and just do my job.
Thankfully, I decided not to in this matter. If I do not speak my mind about topics that concern me, that would be a dereliction of my duty. It is our job as media folks to ask the hard questions and make the ‘controversial’ statements. Also, I hate the word ‘controversial.’ Why does everything have to be controversial?
The fact of the matter is, the fans are at fault for what happened this evening. Is it all the fans? No, not at all. For those already offended, please keep on reading. The fans pushed for Kentucky Speedway to be added onto the schedule. As a result, NASCAR gave the fans what they wanted. Now, those same fans are complaining the race was boring.
Do not get me wrong, Kentucky is a nice track, but, it is not built for Sprint Cup Series racing. I have not seen a single exciting cup race there so far. Some may disagree, but there are a lot of factors that come into play, including debris cautions and double-file restarts, which some claim is manufactured.
Where do we see the most exciting racing? It certainly has not been at 1.5 mile tracks. Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond, for example, have provided some amazing racing this season! “Did you see that finish at Richmond?” We, the fans, want to hear more of those questions! “Did you see that finish at Kentucky?” It’s unlikely anyone will hear such a question.
Did anyone get a chance to read what Humpy Wheeler had to say? In my opinion, I wish he were helping run things. The man knows business and that is what puts rears in the seats. NASCAR lacks emotion. Sure, anyone could get onto a driver’s radio feed and listen to curse words, but that is not what I mean. NASCAR needs villains and the cars need to be slower.
As Mr. Wheeler said, “You can’t really race when you’re more than 200 mph on an intermediate track. They should slow ’em by at least 10 mph. And they need to attack the dreaded “aero push” problem. They haven’t done it yet, but they’re starting to look at it. Downforce is creating aero push, so they have to figure that out.” NASCAR should really consider this. At first, I was against it. I thought it was all about the speed. It really is not. The extra speed is what is causing a lot of the problems, especially at 1.5 mile tracks.
Wheeler also talked about the lack of personalities. The lack of personalities is NASCAR’s own fault, for example, NASCAR had an opportunity to gain from the Ambrose-Mears fight after Richmond. Instead, Ambrose was fined $25,000 and Mears, fined $15,000. Why did NASCAR fine Mears, eating a straight right-hand to the face?
Despite the outcome, NASCAR will foolishly use the fight as hype for the race, but everyone knows there will not be a sequel. Thankfully, the race is at Richmond, where the Gen 6 has had some exciting racing.
Why is NASCAR having attendance issues at the 1.5 mile tracks? Sure, technology plays a part of the factor; however, that factor is minimal. Some folks can stream races live, while others may follow Twitter instead of making the expensive commute to see it live. How come we are not seeing the same problem with every other sport? We do not, which means there is something we can do better.
I have talked to many fans about our future as a sport. Boy, we have some passionate fans out there. They proudly represent the driver they love and go bananas with everything. Answer this question: does the best car usually win in NASCAR today? In regards to this evening, the best car won. Brad Keselowski was the class of the field. At tracks 1.5 miles or longer, every race should be just as exciting as Saturday.
On Sunday, there was only one debris caution and it was a legitimate one. From my standpoint, NASCAR generally throws a random debris caution to help the “show.” If NASCAR was confident that its racing would deliver, there would be no need for it.
NASCAR needs to get rid of the lucky dog and wave around. Eliminate anything that rewards drivers for not doing well enough to be on the lead lap. Given, sometimes things happen. A driver decides to pit during the green flag and someone blows a right-front, putting you down a lap. Tough beans, work your way back up to the lead lap. Line up on the inside of the leader and good luck.
In boxing, one boxer may be getting dominated in every category. All of a sudden, one pop opens up a huge cut over the right eye, bleeding and causing his vision to be blurred. In NASCAR land, this is a car that is not performing well enough to be on the lead lap. If NASCAR were in control of the World Boxing Council, this boxer would get the wave around. For one round, the boxer will get to wave around the ring. Meanwhile, the boxer who drew first blood will not be allowed to hit his opponent to allow his man to recover. At the end the commentators exclaim, “What a finish!”
I have a better idea! How about we regulate how much a boxer can train? For example, the world champion cannot train for his title bout. Only the fighter who has not won a world title can train. In the blue corner, the defending champion, Jimmie Johnson! In the red corner, the challenger, Timmy Hill! Let’s get ready to rumble! Oh, Hill got knocked out in round 1. So much for the new regulation.
What am I getting to? No matter what NASCAR does to regulate the big, macho teams, the little guys will get squashed every track they visit, with the exception of Daytona and Talladega. Think about it for a second. From 1984-1990, Hendrick Motorsports saw 28 victories in its first six years in existence. Fast forward to today. In the past six years, Hendrick Motorsports has won 57 races, just over twice that amount. How did Mr. Hendrick make his team so successful? The man knows how to run a business, the man knows people. NASCAR did not build that team to the way it is today.
I will always be loyal to NASCAR, but I think we should really consider making changes to help things in the long run. If we do so, we will see improvements made and we will see more races sell out. It’s time to put innovation to work.