With College and Professional Football getting underway, and some very interesting Pennant Races in Major League Baseball, Nascar urgently needs The Race For The Chase to be exciting, as well as compelling. In my estimation, they have three weeks to provide some excitement for us the fans and Television viewers. Along with the two Major Sports, Professional Golf is in it’s playoff run(The FedEx Cup), and will be playing the Ryder Cup at the end of September. All of these distractions will without a doubt, predicate a quick channel check if the the races are not exciting.
With the normal attitude out there that you only need to watch the last 20-30 laps of a race to see most of the excitement, it will be tough for Nascar to keep an audience, especially when the race is up against an NFL game or good baseball match up. Without a doubt, if Jimmie Johnson gets an early lead in the points by winning an early race, it would almost spell disaster. Many fans are tired of seeing Jimmie win, and would bail early on the Chase. Multi-sport fans will run for the door and leave only us gear heads watching races.
The one positive that could surface to keep fans, would be an early win for Dale Earnhardt Jr. If he were to get in contention for his first Cup win, that might move the needle and bring the fans back in bunches. Dale Jr. is to Nascar what Tiger Woods is to Golf, and would bring casual fans back in a hurry.
The only other possibility would be a run by Jeff Gordon. Jeff has gotten large enough that he transends Nascar to some degree. He’s not as popular as Dale Jr, but does have a following outside of the sport, and would bring some of the fans back. The remainder of the field, including last year Champion, Tony Stewart can’t bring the masses back.
With Talladega on the Chase schedule, that will help with viewers, Talladega is always exciting to watch, both at the track, and on television. The problem I see is Chicagoland, Kansas, Texas and Phoenix. These races are on the cookie cutter 1.5 mile tracks that usually have a snooze factor attached. Only Chicagoland is within the three week period I eluded to earlier. The three week period is the time frame before MLB playoffs start, and football gets into full swing. This time is critical to snag fans before they move on.
If the #48 team gets in the lead, look for some rules changes that will affect competition. Something to make the races more exciting if the racing becomes stale. Also look for a few more cautions for debris late in races. This will bunch the cars up a little sooner through re-starts.
The rules announcement Nascar put out on September 7th was not for any changes, but was a reminder of the rules already in place regarding truck trailing arm bushings. This was Nascar’s way of telling crew chiefs and car bosses that they will start looking at this rule a little closer.
At present, the cars are allowed 1/4 inches of movement in the front bushing. This play in the bushing allows the chassis to move a little in the corners and thus creating a little more down force. This lets the drivers carry a little more speed through the turns, which means more speed on the straight.
I am personally looking forward to the Chase because drivers who are in the Chase can quit worrying about making the Chase, and do some racing. That’s what all good race fans want, Good Racing, and it all starts on Sunday at Chicagoland !!
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