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NASCAR takes a backseat on television during second Chase weekend

By admin | September 22, 2012

By Richard Allen

NASCAR instituted the Chase for the Championship after the 2003 Sprint Cup(then Winston Cup and eventually Nextel Cup) season after Matt Kenseth had made the final races of that year a mere formality in terms of who would win the title. It was thought by the top brass of the sport and the television networks who cover it that the guarantee of a close points battle would keep racing relevant as it competed against the all powerful NFL for ratings and advertising dollars.

Apparently that strategy is not working because NASCAR can’t even get itself into a live time slot on a television network devoted(at least for now) solely to the coverage of racing or on the network that has coverage of the final third of the season. On the weekend of the second Chase race at New Hampshire, Sprint Cup qualifying was bumped from live coverage on a Friday afternoon by the Barrett-Jackson Auction on Speed. Then, neither Speed nor ESPN carried the first Sprint Cup practice on Saturday morning.

Speed aired qualifying on a tape delayed basis on Friday night at 10:00pm and showed Formula 1 qualifying on Saturday morning at the time in which Cup practice was taking place.

The only NASCAR programming ESPN offered for the New Hampshire weekend was coverage of the Nationwide Series race from Kentucky on Saturday and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. The sports broadcasting giant offered no qualifying or practice coverage.

NASCAR and its networks continually pound home just how important the Chase is. However, the actions of the networks this weekend are not matching their words. If it were indeed so important, then it seems as though the networks would treat it as such.

Instead, a foreign racing series with drivers many American fans have no attachment to and a car auction in which aging rich men spend far too much money on old cars to impress their trophy wives and girlfriends trumped live racing coverage. (I know I somewhat unfairly categorized both Formula 1 and Barrett-Jackson but I’m making a point.)

The bottom line is that NASCAR’s manufactured points Chase is a gimmick that many fans are not falling for and the network coverage reflects that. If it was working as a tool to draw more fans, television would cover every aspect of racing live because that would be where the advertising money would be.

So sorry, Mr. France. Your Chase is not doing what it is supposed to do. Even ‘racing only’ and ’sports only’ networks recognize that.

Topics: Articles |

12 Responses to “NASCAR takes a backseat on television during second Chase weekend”

  1. Offkilter Says:
    September 22nd, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I see your point, Rich, and the barrett-jackson description is hilarious. Chase or no chase, its really suprising that qualifying and practice would get live coverage at any time of the year. Barring that juan runs into somebody in practice or somebody wads up a car in qualifying, that part of the racing w/e is about as fun as watching paint dry. It probably would never happen, but having heat races instead of practices wouldn’t be the most absurd idea.

  2. Tony Geinzer Says:
    September 22nd, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I feel it would be organically easier to stomach the fact if maybe some dates should be ousted and I feel that it would need 30 or 28 Dates before expansion is taken seriously again. Beyond the Montreal and the Newton, I wonder if anyone else is taking NASCAR Seriously beyond the fact that Nashville,Birmingham, or North Wilkesboro would need to build a safe venue.

  3. zhills fan Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 5:37 am

    You got that right!! But nascar will never admit it. nascar is getting so boring i don’t even watch it except the first 25 laps and the last 25 laps.

  4. Sue Rarick Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I never thought I’d say this again, but I’ve watched more Indy car racing this year than I have Nascar. The racing has been better there too. I’ve been told that for a Southern racing fan to say this is a sure way to burn in hell, but sadly Nascar has become that boring and out of touch with it’s core fans.

  5. Andy D Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Even ESPN doesn’t televise batting practice or the New York Giant’s scrimmages. Practice is dull. If there’s a serious crash in practice, the video can be shown during the pre-race and they can discuss the ramifications. That would certainly be better than some of the fluff pieces they run instead.

    Qualification has become irrelevant. How many pole winners have won races this year? Maybe two? It matters where you start, but it doesn’t matter so much that I need two hours devoted to it.

    The chase is destructive to the series. Barrett-Jackson is a circle-jerk of rich guys. I’m with you on both points. However, instead of showing qualifying and practice, I’d rather see some in-depth coverage of the technical aspects of Sprint Cup cars and highlights of smaller tracks and series.

  6. Rick Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 9:33 am

    The main reason Nascar is losing fans is they keep trying to be something their not. They have driven a lot of hardcore fans away by trying to shed their blue collar image in favor of some stupid hio hop teenager image that’s my opinion. I really think the racing has been pretty good. I mean back in 98 2 drivers won 20 of 33 races and people didn’t complain like they do now. So basically Nascar screwd up by trying to get a new crowd that watched for a while and decided it wasn’t for them now their chasing their tails and trying to build the sport around the average fan and it ain’t working. The marketing strategy really needs to change time for Brian France to be replaced.

  7. midasmicah Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I’m one of the hardcore fans that you speak of Rick. In trying to compete with the stick and ball sports, nas$car in their “kneejerk reaction” best, decided they not only needed a Play-off, but also a new demigraphic of fans. We long time fans supported nas$car with fanaticism and how were we rewarded? A bunch of boring mile and a half tracks in areas where there is no racing history beyond the local tracks in mostly small towns. We got a racecar that looks like it belongs behind a train, no matter what “brand” they put on it. ” Blue collar” drivers disappeared as the new drivers became aloof millionaires that have nothing in common with the fans who built this sport. Nas$car, sadly” is becoming irrelevant. nas$car sold their soul to the devil and now the very people they sold it to are distancing themselves from the sport. Wait till the next network contracts come up. And the chase? The artificial play-offs don’t work in this sport and nas$car is still acting like a little kid with a toy digging his heels in and saying, “this is my toy and you can’t play with it”. Well, I’ve vented enough, but I needed to.

  8. Clyde Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Here is an idea….. The NFL has “pre-season games”…..MLB has spring training games….. How about, instead of one or two lap qualifications, have a 50 lap “heat race” that determines everybodies starting positions at that particular track? You could sell tickets to the heat race, and even televise it, it would be a lot more exciting than one car on the track at a time! AND, it would give everybody a chance to race at least once every weekend.

  9. TIM Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    The current NASCAR business model will continue to fail. An uninspired product on the track cannot be saved by circus like coverage. Everyone has their list of top ten problems with NASCAR but their complaints will be unheard until the whole deal hits rock bottom. The unwinding of the NASCAR experience may takes years to complete. Meanwhile viewers will faded from watching the first and last 25 laps of a race to not even remembering that the race was scheduled.
    Throughout the history of auto racing series have ebbed and flowed. The open wheel class of racing has reinvented itself numerous times in order to survive.
    Auto racing is not and never will be a mainstream sport in America. It caters to a niche market that is regionally supported. I was born and raised in the South and have followed NASCAR since the ’50s. Even with my roots in the sport when the major sports come into their season NASCAR takes the back burner.
    There will always be a place for NASCAR in our realm of sport entertainment but not in it’s current format.
    NASCAR needs to consider contraction instead of expansion to allow for a better product to be developed for the fan base.

  10. Rick Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Being a long time fan my main problem is with some of the gimmic things they do to try and appeal main stream this is not a main stream sport it was doing great in the 90s with no gimmicks and it’s blue collar crowd. Having said all that I really think for the most part the quality of racing is pretty good and I do like the chase format and I would like to see some new markets the cup series should go to Iowa and Montreal and would love to see them get tracks in Washington state and Denver I agree in expansion but you don’t need to try and be mainstream there are blue collar redneck people everywhere yes I said redneck nothing wrong with that I consider myself a redneck.

  11. NaBUru38 Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Practice is boring! rahter than broadcast it, priority should be a Friday or Saturday night talk show, where journalists analyse qualifying results and show taped interviews, and a Monday or Thursday night talks show with four or five drivers to discuss the race and the championship.

  12. Gordon86Wins Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    What’s worse than the Chase, although itself it was a terrible idea, has been NASCAR’s arrogance about it. Poll after poll of fans results in overwhelming opposition to it, even with the remaining fans who haven’t left the sport because of it. The top brass HAS to see that, but instead of getting rid of a hugely unpopular playoff format, which ANY other sport would have quickly done, they keep shoving it down fans throats and insisting it’s great. They’re either locked into it with ESPN, or they think the fans will buy it if they push it enough.

    You can’t polish a big, smelly, diarrhea-laden turd like the Chase.