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How much will the ‘Junior Effect’ be worth?

By admin | June 21, 2012

By Richard Allen


Until this past Sunday, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had not won a Sprint Cup race since 2008. Coincidently, track attendance and television ratings for NASCAR’s top division have fallen off of their high water mark within that same time period. The question is, how much of that drop off was due to the fact that the sport’s most popular driver wasn’t winning?

In the coming weeks, we may be about to find out the answer to that question. As a matter of fact, Junior’s win in the Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway is already producing results and the hope is that more positive results will be forthcoming.

Earlier this week, Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News reported that the track at Sonoma(site of this week’s Sprint Cup race) experienced ticket sales 20% higher for the Monday preceding their race date. That is a significant number considering that attending a NASCAR race is not something typically done on a whim. Such a trip often takes weeks, or even months, of planning for fans to set aside the money, secure hotel reservations and make travel plans.

While it can’t necessarily be said that one driver’s win was entirely responsible for the Monday increase, it would be a good guess to think so.

And more than the bump in ticket sales at Sonoma, Speed TV reported that ratings for their Sunday evening shows were up dramatically. That network’s ‘NASCAR Victory Lane’ experienced an increase of 152% and their ‘Wind Tunnel’ show received a boost of 56%.

Other tracks are trying to get in on the windfall. Literally hours after the checkered flag fell in Michigan, Bristol Motor Speedway sent out an e-mail flyer advertising for fans to “See Dale Jr. at the Irwin Tools Night Race”. In bold print on the large picture of the popular driver a quote from him that reads, “I feel like when I go to Bristol, I can win anytime I show up there” is clearly visible.

That’s a not-so-subtle message for any Junior fans who might have been on the fence about going to Bristol in August.

As stated before, there is no real way to measure just how much impact a win by Junior will have in the coming weeks. But there is no doubt it will have some effect and the tracks and TV networks are obviously hoping for the best.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “How much will the ‘Junior Effect’ be worth?”

  1. Offkilter Says:
    June 21st, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I think a winning jr will make a difference in all the numbers. Just the fact of him running consistently on the lead lap has pulled me back into watching many of the races live this year. Prior to that, the past few years i was strictly a dvr guy except for the short tracks. I cannot put into words how awesome and vendicating it was to see him win again.

  2. David Says:
    June 21st, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    For the sake of the sport,its sponsors well as other drivers I hope Jr can win multiple times this year. I also think that an increase of wins could definitely throw a curveball into the current TV negotiations going on currently

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    June 22nd, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Isn’t this kind of like the WWF depended on Hulk Hogan?

    Is Nascar at the point they need a Hulk Hogan like personality to do well?

  4. mikeyfan1599 Says:
    June 22nd, 2012 at 7:13 am

    While it may increase some things, it’s a sad day in the sport of NASCAR that we have so many fair weather fans such as Offkilter involved in the sport. Also, the way the press falls over themselves and have been for the past 11 1/2 years is a shame in itself. The sport will survive without Dale Junior and it’s time the press allows Dale Sr. To RIP and quit trying to live their memorys with Junior.

    But the funniest of them all is those who think the ratings increase durning the race was because of Junior winning. That shows just how much the press will try to shove Junior down our throats but some people just don’t get it and allow themselves to be lead by the nose down that path the press wants them to go instead of having an independent mind.

  5. Richard Allen Says:
    June 22nd, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Since the 2001 TV contract came into play, this sport’s success has been based on personalities rather than the racing itself. Just look how much TV time is focused on a very few individuals.

  6. Offkilter Says:
    June 22nd, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Mikeyfan1599, you remind me of someone. Never the less, i can accept the label of “fair weather fan.” Hey, my favorite thing in the world is bassfishing with my son, but we don’t fish in the rain. I try to refrain from beating the dead horse even more about how bad the racing has gotten with the new cars the past few years. Therfor when my guy, jr, was getting his head kicked in the past few years, why in hell would i sit through 4 hours of crappy racing just to see jimmy or (gag) kyle lead the most laps and win? I will have to say that the media’s constant reminders and sound bites of connecting jr to sr gets old.

    Richard, the camera coverage has always focused on the top teams since i’ve been watching which dates back to the late 80’s. The only difference is how much worse the waltrip brothers make it when they are the talking heads in the booth.

    I reckon the point can be made that no one or nothing is perfect.