By admin | May 23, 2011
By Richard Allen
It has long been debated as to whether the NASCAR Nationwide Series would be better served to act as a companion tour for the more popular Sprint Cup Series or go on its own as a stand alone series. Sunday’s race in Iowa went a long way toward proving the point of those who take the latter side of the argument.
Prior to Sunday, ten of the eleven Nationwide races had been run as a companion to a Sprint Cup event. And, the vast majority of those races have been contested in front of grandstands that had more empty seats than those filled. Conversely, the Iowa track featured a full seating area to watch the John Deere Dealers 250.
It is fair to point out that the one other stand alone race for this series was held in Nashville before a less than stellar audience. But it is also fair to point out that the Nashville race was contested on the day before Easter, which is a less than desirable date.
In the debate regarding the best venues to hold Nationwide races, some will argue that even a half empty Sprint Cup track has more fans than the grandstands at other tracks, even when those facilities are full.
But in a world where appearances are everything, the look of a filled venue is often better for business in the long run than the look of a half empty venue, no matter what the actual numbers might be.
And a second matter open to debate for many regarding this series is whether or not Sprint Cup drivers are necessary for the success of the ‘second circuit’.
In Sunday’s race, only two regular Cup series competitors, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, made the trip halfway across the country following their race in Charlotte the night before. Fittingly, a Nationwide regular, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., won the race. It was the first time that a championship eligible driver from the series had visited victory lane in 2011.
This series needs more races in which it is the premier show at that particular track. Smaller venues apart from the Sprint Cup Series with full grandstands and regular drivers would be better than spans of empty seats and races dominated by the same guys who will race on the same track the next day.
It is argued that sponsors will not invest in this series without the high profile drivers racing on the marquee tracks. Sunday afternoon in Iowa seemed to offer the promise that this series can indeed stand alone.
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