Blog By RaceChaser Senior Editor Tom Baker – Photo Courtesy NASCAR/Getty Images –
Hey, nobody asked me, but…
Junior and Jeff…’Chase favorites?
The rise of both Junior and Jeff Gordon to the top of the NASCAR ‘Chase grid can only increase interest in the Sprint Cup “playoffs” this year. Whether you personally cheer for them or not, these two racers are two of NASCAR’s most universally recognizable names. Even casual race fans know them and follow them. I believe NASCAR will benefit from these two having a shot to win the title both in ratings and in mass media conversation.
Speaking of Junior, anyone who still says this man cannot drive a race car or is somehow just riding on his name is, in my humble opinion, uninformed. I don’t believe there was ever a lack of driving ability with Junior. Results would seem to show that the “Car of Tomorrow” never made him comfortable and that perhaps a lack of focus may have played a large part of his most lean seasons.
Since Steve Latarte has come on board, Junior has steadily climbed back to the level he was at in his earliest ‘Cup years. Even his road course performance at Sonoma earlier this year was shockingly good and resulted in a top five finish. I hope he finishes strong and stays in contention all the way to Homestead. If he does, he’ll be a ton of fun to watch in the finale.
I know, I know. What about Jimmie? Well, he and Kasey Kahne (if Kasey can get luck to be a lady for a while) could still both contend. I’m sure Jimmie will be in it to the end, because I believe Hendrick Motorsports has the organization to beat once again, but it feels an awful lot like the road to the title, as of now, goes through Junior and Jeff.
More Dirt? Yes, please!
RaceChaser Managing Editor Jacob Seelman was right in his Speed Zone Blog earlier this week. NASCAR needs more dirt shows. It needs more of anything that draws that much enthusiasm from a fan base that could basically care less about all the 1.5 mile tracks. If the Trucks can put on a show on dirt, why not Nationwide or even ‘Cup? Who cares if you can’t fit 100,000 fans into the track for those races? Let the tracks sell out and the rest can watch on TV just like Eldora.
The declining attendance and TV ratings would appear to be a red flag that something has to change, and change often comes slowly and reluctantly around the NASCAR offices.
I believe that if NASCAR’s top brass ever start figuring out that sometimes money shouldn’t get in the way of putting on a great show, they’d start making even more money.
If you need a 10 minute break to ponder that statement, go right ahead. I’ll wait…
Now that you’ve digested that one, here’s another thought for you…
Thursday Night NASCAR?
What do you think would happen if we ran more mid-week NASCAR ‘Cup races?
It’s a fact that there was much more interest in the last two Daytona 500’s “night races”. Getting the race off of Sunday afternoon “honey dew” and “family picnic” time a little more often would provide prime time audiences a chance to see some amazing racing.
Pick some of the better night-time tracks…maybe Bristol, for example. It might just improve TV ratings a bit and introduce the sport to some new potential fans who just wouldn’t bother to tune in on Sunday afternoons.
This change might also allow NASCAR to geographically coordinate the schedule a little differently. Maybe you run one track in a particular region on a Sunday and come right back with a Wednesday show or a Thursday show at another track. Then, the teams would have 10 days off until the next Sunday race.
If we can see the way to “group” qualifying, I would surely think some mid-week shows wouldn’t be that much of a stretch if it was done right. A Bristol/Kentucky double-header, for example, would be logistically obtainable and would give area fans two opportunities to take a week’s vacation and see two unique races in one week, a much better value.
As I said, nobody asked me, but those are just a couple of the things I think about when someone says, “If you could be NASCAR’s CEO for a day, what would you do?”