It saddens me to write this article today. Yesterday NASCAR gave us a new formula for how points will be distributed during the races. Apparently you get points for leading a segment of the race, and each race is broken into three segments. I am not going to go deeply into the exact way in which this system all works. If you want the specifics, visit NASCAR.com and they are there.
Let me step back to the end of last season. As of December 31, 2016, Sprint’s partnership as the title sponsor for the Cup Series ended. Let’s think about that for a moment. Sprint took over as the sponsor since they bought Nextel years ago. Why would Sprint not want to be the title sponsor any longer? This is fairly simple to see today. The stands at most races are now roughly half full. Some races do not even go over the 50% of the seats full. There is no return on investment left in the sponsorship. Companies simply do spend advertising money into something not returning profit.
In steps Monster Energy Drinks to sponsor. I am guessing there is parts of the contract that include the changes that have been announced today. We will never be privy to exactly what is in, or not in, the actual contract between NASCAR and Monster. With that, if you see that the exiting title sponsor is not making money, how are you going to make money when the on track formula has not changed? Monster has to hedge its money and push NASCAR to make changes to ensure that viewership and attendance at the races will increase with youthful fans. Let’s face it, the base of fans in NASCAR that have been around for a long time, those are not the folks buying Monster Energy drinks on a daily basis. Monster is a drink that is branded for the young, cool, hip folks.
Viewership and attendance are down. Youthful fans that NASCAR needs to have watching are not watching. These folks are probably bored by the lengthy races if they have tuned in. The action occurs at the beginning of the races, and then nothing to worry about until the last 15 or so laps (adjust last laps sample based on the size of the track and so forth).
NASCAR may be on its last stand. This may be a last ditch effort to get a younger audience involved in watching the sport week in and out. Unfortunately, NASCAR has once again alienated its core fans that are tired of having to see the formula tweaked every year or two. There is no consistency left in what was once a booming sport that boasted at a bare minimum of at least 100,000 people every weekend. As a fan, as of yesterday, it just became even more difficult to try to understand a scoring system that is already difficult to understand for the casual fan. This is the moment that I also say to my friend Dave, you were right, and have always been right with your comments to me about NASCAR.
With these changes announced, I am sad to say, within 10 years from now, I am not sure that NASCAR will even exist in its current state. I do not see any reason that this will make the racing any better than what we have endured for a number of seasons now. Cookie cutter tracks and bad group think that is going on at NASCAR headquarters, brings us another attempt to make things better that will miss the mark. Think about this for the upcoming Daytona 500: Will Darrell Waltrip actually be able to describe this point system to the casual fan who just tuned in and knows nothing about it? Perhaps a story for another day, but it may be a good idea for the broadcasters to consider getting rid of the good ole boys who commentate the races (young viewers do not want to hear old man grandpa Waltrip barely be able to speak English if they are just starting to show an interest in the sport, DW is not hip no matter what he may think of himself).
I rarely write about NASCAR any longer. I think I figured out why as of yesterday. I am a huge fan and even I have grown weary of what the execs running the show are doing wit the Cup Series. Last year I attended five Cup races. This year I renewed exactly zero of my tickets with the various tracks. A die hard who likes to attend and promote NASCAR via a website and Twitter, and I get, nor expect, nothing in return, that is the very definition of a die hard fan. Unfortunately, I do not think I am a die hard NASCAR fan any longer. I might watch, but I know longer set my schedule around the races, with that, I feel sad about it.