Tag Archives: NASCAR

What is wrong with NASCAR? – Nothing!

The last couple of years if you read any commentary about NASCAR you would read about declining attendance at the track and ratings on TV. It is sad to see the pictures of massive grand stands with very few fans. It’s also sad to see the TV ratings lower than the year before. It is easy to say there is something wrong with NASCAR and fans are leaving the sport. But are they? Can we know if they are?

NASCAR is a product of their own success; there are so many ways to keep in touch with the sport that going to the track is less important than it was years ago. NASCAR has apps, the networks have apps, we can keep in touch with the action no matter where we are. NASCAR embraced Twitter and Facebook; there are updates on the race there. Even the fans are engaged on Facebook and Twitter. If you wanted to know what was going on at a race and check in on it, you can and no one would know about it. It doesn’t show up in the ratings and you are not seen at the track. It literally looks like no one cares.

How about the racing, isn’t that what it is about. Well the racing is better than ever. Each and every week we have not one but about 15 drivers who can win a race. Sure there are some that seem to have a better shot than others but the days of 5 or fewer cars on the lead lap are over. Oh, the good old days where maybe five drivers had a shot and were on the lead lap but usually less. It’s hard to see people tweet and talk about the good old days.

Sure the “at the track” attendance is lacking. Much is said about the Xfinity and Truck race attendance being light but back in 2001 to 2005 even those series did not have great attendance unless they were at a stand-alone short track. Those series at a 70-90 thousand seat track never filled the seats. It was mind boggling going to one of those races, passing fans in the campground that were not. Now those tracks look even worse when shown on TV.

I stopped going to tracks as media because I felt I was losing touch with the sport. I don’t want to pick on any track but last year at Chicagoland Speedway I went for the first time ever as a fan for the whole race weekend. I bought the whole package and received a Fan Zone Pit Pass. On the first day, the ARCA race, I tried to go to the infield for the prerace. The security guard told me that I could not but he let me anyway but  he said you won’t be able to do that tomorrow. I did and I was the only “Fan” there other than friends and family of ARCA drivers. If you want people to think that there is a party that they need to be a part of, shouldn’t there be people on TV at the party. Why so exclusive?

On Friday for the Truck race and Saturday for the Xfinity race I could not only go to the prerace in the infield I couldn’t go on pit road and look at the trucks and cars? Again, If this should be a party you should be a part of shouldn’t we have people at the Party? TV is great at showing parties. They love that but if there is no one there then they have to fish a story. It won’t be about the party. In support of Chicagoland Speedway, they did give me access to the infield and pit road before the Cup race. It was the party I’m talking about.

This year I went to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Just like Chicagoland I was given pit passes. This time for the Xfinity race it was only good during the race. No prerace, no seeing the cars lined up before the race. For the Cup race, just like Chicagoland, it was what was expected. As I said above, why the limit, they should have a party and make it available for TV so that it appears that it is the place to be.

So what is wrong with NASCAR? Nothing is! NASCAR, the tracks and TV need to make it something you need to attend, something you need to watch. It has to be a party you have to be at.

Feature Photo Credit: 309149 Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Retires, This too Shall Pass

This week Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that this year will be his last year driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. NASCARs most popular driver would no longer be driving next year.

I just wanted the opportunity to go out on my own terms.”, said Earnhardt.

Social Media and Sirius/XM NASCAR lit up with fans saying that NASCAR is over; it will never survive. Some claim that as much as 65% of all fans are Dale Jr. fans and most will not continue watching because he will not be there. We have been there before.

When Dale Earnhardt died, similar claims were made by fans. Afterword’s, I remember going to races and seeing Dale Earnhardt fans wearing the No. 3 Goodwrench gear at the track or in the campgrounds. I really enjoyed hearing the stories of what they saw him do on the track, how he put the bumper to someone. I enjoyed hearing how they met him one time, got to shake his hand, and get his autograph.

When the race was over these same fans would say; wow did you see what Harvick did. (Kevin Harvick was the driver of the No. 3 now renumbered 29 Goodwrench Chevy.)  Regardless, NASCAR went on. The years after were some of the most popular years of the sport.

Photo Credit: 348791 Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT
Photo Credit: 348791 Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT

I am certain that next year there will still be many members of “Junior Nation” in the campground and in the stands. They will also be recalling to all who will listen what Dale Earnhardt Jr. did on the track. They will also tell all who ask and some who don’t about when they got to meet him. I am certain that after the race they will say; did you see what Chase Elliott did in turn four? Kyle Larson was really tearing out the outside groove or “Insert new hot shoe driver here” in the 88 really took it to them this week.

One thing that’s made this career the incredible ride that it’s been is Junior Nation.” Earnhardt Jr. added, “The fan support that I received straight out of the gate was in large part because of my famous last name.  But throughout the ups and downs it occurred to me that the fans that stuck it out and the new ones that joined us, they were there because of the person I was and not who they wanted me to be.

If you are a member of “Junior Nation” you will still be one but you are in a position to broaden your experience. This is why we love NASCAR.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 348787 ISC Archives via Getty Images

NASCAR Racing Begins with ARCA Racing in More Ways Than One

The seemingly long off season for Stock Car racing is almost over. The season actually begins with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards opening at Daytona International Speedway. The  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with open with their exhibition race The Clash at Daytona several hours later. But in some ways NASCAR Cup racing begins with ARCA racing.

In years past many future Monster Energy NASCAR Cup stars got their start in the ARCA Racing Series. Ryan Newman won this race in 2001, Kyle Busch in 2004 and James Buescher in 2009 but many others got important experience by racing this race and in this series.

In 2014, Cup driver Chase Elliott started fifth and finished ninth in this race. Daniel Suarez was also in this race started third and finished fifth. Suarez was also in the race in 2015 starting sixth and finishing second.

Last year we had some future NASCAR stars in this race; NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers Cole Custer (10th) and William Byron (2nd), also NASCAR Camping World Truck driver Chase Briscoe (4th). Camping World Truck driver Grant Enfinger won this race in 2014 and 2015.

This year we have Xfinity Driver Matt Tifft in this race.  20 year old Tifft was a NASCAR Next driver in 2016.  17 year old Riley Herbst driving full time in the ARCA series for Joe Gibbs Racing will also be a rising star to watch.

John Wes Townley won this race last year and retired from all racing at the end of the season.

As always though these big money NASCAR teams will have to contend with the ARCA regulars like eight time winner of this race Bobby Gerhart in his legendary No. 5 Lucas Oil Machine.

If you cannot get to Daytona International Speedway for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards; Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire it will be shown on Fox Sports 1 on February 18th at 4 PM ET.

Feature Photo Credit ARCA Racing

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

In NASCAR it is all about Rules, Embrace them!

As we enter the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series there are a lot of rules changes. Many will think that this series is totally different than it was in 2016. The biggest change is how points are awarded and carried into the Chase for the Cup. The other change is the running of races in segments and awarding points for leading those segments. Gone are points for leading a lap. If you are not up to speed with these changes read these from Dustin Long at NBC.

If you have watched NASCAR for a while you know that Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are the gold standard to using the NASCAR rule book to their advantage. They have embraced the Chase format and taken advantage of it like no other team.

In football there is a reason there are 4 downs, a two minute warning, half time and each team has a limited amount of time outs. It is all about controlling TV time and the commercials that pay for it and keeping the fans attention. Whether you like it or not, Brian France has made these changes to balance the whole viewing experience.

People for years have argued that too many green flag laps were lost during commercials. Many have also criticized the sometimes monotonous green flag laps of single file racing that occurs at the larger tracks. Another criticism is that since some races are very long it appears that many drivers are just biding their time waiting for “Go Time” to actually race. Whether that is true or not only they know but some people think that.

Last year’s big change was the addition of a Caution Clock in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Yes it impacted racing but did it kill it. I think because it was apparent they were on the clock it made the racing better and didn’t detract from it. All in all it made the experience better.

Two years ago I was at Daytona for the 500. Approximately 1/3 of the way in I had to use the facilities and couldn’t wait for a caution flag. While I was behind the stands in the relative quiet I talked with some people and had a cocktail for ten minutes. If you know Daytona I missed perhaps 10 laps. It was refreshing to take a break, take the head phones off and chill. Why I never did that in 16 years of going to races I don’t know.

I’m looking at these segments as just that. A time to reflect on what’s happened, perhaps chat with friends you are with about it; charge back up and enjoy the race. Embrace the Change, you may just like it!

Feature Photo Credit: 305378 Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

2017 is the inaugural season Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Monster Energy will be ushering a new era of NASCAR now that Tony Stewart has joined Jeff Gordon in retirement. Monster is expected to bring even more Energy to the sport as the current stars of NASCAR move over so the new ones can make their mark.

They’re a fun brand that’s going to interact with our core fans in kind of a cool, neat way actually, and we’ve seen some of the plans, and they’ll get bigger and more robust as we go along.” Brian France

Changes will come with the addition of a new sponsor. One change will be the sponsor will be on the top of the windshield of every car instead of the driver’s name. The drivers name will be on the rear window instead. Current drivers like Kurt Busch that were sponsored by Monster Energy will still have that sponsorship.

Like every season, this one will begin with much hope and promise. Brian France said, “We’re — this is where people come to have fun, right?  Our speedways and watch us on television, what better brand to have associated with us than the people who understand that.

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Date Location Network Race Start Radio
2/18 The Unlimited at

Daytona International Speedway

FS1

 

8 p.m.

 

MRN / SiriusXM
2/19 DAYTONA 500 Qualifying at

Daytona International Speedway

FOX

 

3 p.m.

 

MRN / SiriusXM
2/23 Can-Am Duel at

Daytona International Speedway

FS1 7 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
2/26 DAYTONA 500 at

Daytona International Speedway

FOX 2 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
3/5 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX 2:30 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
3/12 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
3/19 Phoenix International Raceway FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
3/26 Auto Club Speedway FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
4/2 Martinsville Speedway FS1 2 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
4/9 Texas Motor Speedway FOX 1:30 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
4/23 Bristol Motor Speedway FOX 2 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
4/30 Richmond International Raceway FOX 2 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
5/7 Talladega Superspeedway FOX 2 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
5/13 Kansas Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
5/20 NASCAR All-Star Race at

Charlotte Motor Speedway

FS1 6 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
5/28 Coca-Cola 600 at

Charlotte Motor Speedway

FOX 6 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
6/4 Dover International Speedway FS1 1 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
6/11 Pocono Raceway FS1 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
6/18 Michigan International Speedway FS1 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
6/25 Sonoma Raceway FS1 3 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
7/1 Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway NBC 7:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
7/8 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
7/16 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN 3 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
7/23 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBC 3 p.m. IMS / SiriusXM
7/30 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
8/6 Watkins Glen International NBCSN 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
8/13 Michigan International Speedway NBCSN 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
8/19 Bristol Motor Speedway NBC 7:30 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
9/3 Darlington Raceway NBCSN 6 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
9/9 Richmond International Raceway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
9/17 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
9/24 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN 2 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
10/1 Dover International Speedway NBCSN 2 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
10/7 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBCSN 7 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
10/15 Talladega Superspeedway NBC 2 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
10/22 Kansas Speedway NBCSN 3 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
10/29 Martinsville Speedway NBCSN 1 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
11/5 Texas Motor Speedway NBC 2 p.m. PRN / SiriusXM
11/12 Phoenix International Raceway NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM
11/19 Homestead-Miami Speedway NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN / SiriusXM

Check out the schedule and make your travel plans to attend a race or two. Don’t forget to check out to see if there is a companion event for the XFINITY or Camping World Truck Series. Hope to see you there.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 322808 Chris Trotman/Getty Images