NASCAR fans weigh in on race format changes
Kyle Larson brought home the win yesterday, in Fontana, California, for Chip Ganassi Racing in his Chevrolet. Larson is now the points leader in the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series.
The new scoring system is confusing at best. The races are now divided into smaller segments and NASCAR describes the scoring like this. “Each race is comprised of three stages -- Stage 1, Stage 2 and the Final Stage. Drivers who finish in the top 10 in Stage 1 and Stage 2 earn additional race points, with the winner of each stage earning 10 points, second place earning nine points, third place earning eight points, etc., down to one point for 10th place.” Good luck with that.
NASCAR is attempting to draw new interest in racing and also trying to stop declining television ratings. It does not appear to be working. According to Sports Media Watch, the ratings for the Fontana race were a dismal 2.9 overnight rating on Fox. That rating is down 17% from last year and supposedly the second-lowest for any NASCAR Cup race on Fox since 2001. Only the Daytona 500 was apparently up in ratings, from last year.
I did a very unscientific poll of my Facebook friends to see what they think of the new format. Please understand that most of my friends love anything automotive and many are race aficionados. Here is a sampling of their responses to the new format. Kathy is an avid race fan and says, “Not a fan. If they are going to do segments I'd rather see heat races and a main.”
Mike says, “It's OK. What they need to wok in is getting some drivers with a personality. They need rivalries like back in the day with Gordon and Earnhardt.”
J.D. says, “Not a fan at all. Reminds me of the Shoot Out. Makes me want to change channels until the end of each segment.”
Thomas believes it has improved the sport. “Better racing. Rewards drivers for the whole day’s racing not just the end.”
Jan responds, “I like it as it encourages them to race through the entire race to secure points for the championship vs. hanging back and waiting until the end to race.”
John says he doesn’t watch but his friends don’t like it. “. I've overheard a few NASCAR devotees in the last week or so and they're getting tired of the new format.”
Larry gives NASCAR points for trying. “It is a clever way to score driver points, and my guess to encourage more competitive racing earlier in the race.”
At least eight people, Val, Cheryl, Steven, Rich, Tammy and Eric, Robert and Jim dislike it. Perhaps, Chris summed it up best. “Meh. I stopped watching.” And that’s exactly the point. People have stopped watching and attending.
John replies, “NASCAR is losing fans in droves. TV ratings are down by a lot, attendance at races is scary skimpy. The writing is on the pitwall: change or die.”
Paul says, “A perfect example of management who behind the scenes recognize they have a sport in decline, and then elect to go with gimmicks rather than what built their sport in the first place.”
Scott says, “Hated it at first, now I'm at peace with it. I want to see how it actually affects the scoring when it comes to the chase.”
Rodney actually enjoys the change. “I like it! I think it makes the entire race more exciting and not just the last few laps.”
It will be interesting to see if these changes can reverse the trend of dropping ratings and attendance. Fans wonder if NASCAR would have greater success by altering the restrictor plates or dropping them entirely!