By admin | November 10, 2010
By Richard Allen
NASCARâ€™s television ratings have been pretty bad this year and that may be putting it mildly. In most races run this season the ratings have gone down in year to year comparisons and itâ€™s not as if 2009 was a particularly strong season for NASCARâ€™s network partners.
However, coming into this weekendâ€™s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix virtually every possible scenario to create a buzz around the sport has fallen into place.
For starters, what American sports fan has not seen a clip of the dust up between Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton? Nothing like the controversy of a physical confrontation can stir interest in an upcoming event. Many folks may have missed seeing the Gordon vs. Burton bout live(and judging from the ratings of the Texas race many, many people missed seeing it live). But, they may tune in this Sunday as NASCAR races in Phoenix to see if there will be a round two.
Another factor that could cause more viewers than have been watching so far to tune in is the fact that the Chase for the Championship points battle is one of the closest since the system was adopted back in 2004. Additionally, there are three drivers with a chance of winning the Cup which can add to the possible scenarios and intrigue.
Also, it could be worth watching to witness the next Kyle Busch meltdown. Who will feel the wrath of his scorn in the Arizona desert?
And perhaps best of all for NASCAR, four time consecutive champion Jimmie Johnson and his team have shown signs of weakness and could possibly lose this yearâ€™s Chase. As awe inspiring as watching a dynasty being built may be, it does not compare with watching it fall in the eyes of many onlookers.
However, even though the things to have happened last weekend almost certainly will create a bit more interest, the factors that have served to drive fans away in the first place are still there. That close points battle is as such because it is contrived. The Chase for the Championship has been seen by many fans for what it is, a way of artificially creating excitement rather than allowing a season long champion to be crowned.
The Car of Tomorrow will still be the vehicle in use in Phoenix whether Gordon and Burton fought last week or not. The car is a generic beast with no reason for anyone to feel any sense of loyalty to it. Brand identity used to be one of the great drawing factors for NASCAR.
So, it is certainly a possibility that the events of last week could cause enough of a buzz that the Phoenix race might actually see and ratings bump for ESPN. For that matter, it would be difficult to imagine how ratings could not increase this week. However, unless NASCAR can find a way to get all of that same stuff to happen week after week, it is likely any bump will only be short-lived.
If this weekendâ€™s ratings are still below those of previous years, it will be the strongest indictment yet against the factors that have hurt this sport.
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Here are other columns you may find interesting:
Races like that will cause people to start watching NASCAR againÂ http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1310
Should NASCAR suspend Kyle Busch from Sprint Cup race in Texas? http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1309
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