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 NASCARâ€™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 sportâ€™s most popular driver wasnâ€™t winning?
In the coming weeks, we may be about to find out the answer to that question. As a matter of fact, Juniorâ€™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 weekâ€™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 canâ€™t necessarily be said that one driverâ€™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 networkâ€™s â€˜NASCAR Victory Laneâ€™ experienced an increase of 152% and their â€˜Wind Tunnelâ€™ 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 â€œSee Dale Jr. at the Irwin Tools Night Raceâ€. In bold print on the large picture of the popular driver a quote from him that reads, â€œI feel like when I go to Bristol, I can win anytime I show up thereâ€ is clearly visible.
Thatâ€™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.
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