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If NASCAR really wants to take on the NFL they should…

By admin | September 24, 2012

 By Richard Allen

Many believe an ulterior motive for NASCAR’s creating the Chase for the Championship was to compete with the NFL for Sunday television ratings during the fall season. According to this theory, a playoff like system with points being re-set among a limited number of drivers was supposed would garner greater interest with the virtual guarantee that the points race would come down to the final lap of the season.

If that was indeed one of the reasons for creating the Chase, things are not working out too well. The NFL is a behemoth on television and to think that any other sport could take them on is wishful thinking at best.

But if NASCAR really wants to, or wanted to, take them on, it would help for them to not allow certain mistakes to be made during the coverage of their races.

For one thing, races should start earlier than football rather than after the opening kickoffs of the first games of the day. The Chase races in Chicago and New Hampshire have not taken the green flag until after 2:00pm(eastern). NFL games start at 1:00pm(eastern).

By the time those races began, casual fans had been allowed to get entrenched in the NFL for an hour. If the games are close, those fans are not turning away to watch NASCAR.

On Sunday, I saw a number of Twitter posts in which fans proclaimed that the early NFL games were too good and they had no intentions of leaving them at that time. If races started at 12:30 or 12:45 there might be a chance to capture some viewers before they get locked into something else.

Second, it would also help NASCAR to not have their television partners doing stories about the NFL and the drivers love of it during pre-race shows. A feature was aired on Sunday of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discussing his NFL fantasy team and how he gets updates of the games over his team radio during races.

Their have also been features done in the past of other drivers such as Matt Kenseth and his Green Bay Packers fandom.

I am not a businessman but I would assume that one rule of gaining and keeping customers would be to not remind those customers of the competition. I don’t recall seeing very many features on an NFL player’s NASCAR fantasy teams.

But the most important thing to remember about taking on the NFL is that no one can take on the NFL. And using gimmicks like the Chase and the Car of Tomorrow will not cause new fans to come to the sport. Instead, the abandonment of the sport’s roots will only cause old and once reliable fans to become alienated.

The best advice anyone could have given NASCAR would have been to be itself and not try to be something it’s not. But it’s too late for that now.

Topics: Articles |

16 Responses to “If NASCAR really wants to take on the NFL they should…”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Rich, I feel upset and lost that how come we don’t do no 11 AM or Noon Races like we used to or even Twinighters? Come on, I am feeling offended that the NFL is more English Premier for my tastes and she ain’t no Texas Football,either and I want to see better races and can’t the networks own up to having more races again and I feel upset that everyone else is not noticing the Austin and Ty Dillons and we Cup Folks are stuck with Kurt and Kyle Busch and come on, we need to ask our sponsors beyond the token cliche Return on Investment because its too easy for Danica but not good for Kelly Bires who don’t need hype, but need Racing for a Living? That’s the way to take the NFL to their own game and that Gorilla in Madison Avenue is having Mood Swings you can’t believe at this point,Rich.

  2. Huds McRear Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 3:20 am

    The car of tomorrow has been no “gimmick”. It has saved lives among other things. Sure, Nascar thought it would have the added benefit of more equal teams, but that was not its sole purpose. To dimiss the car of tomorrow as nothing but a “gimmick” is an insult.

  3. zhills fan Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Also by not following all the field they are going to loose sponsors in the near future. Who ever heard of a playoff system with players not in the playoffs playing.l

  4. Jesse Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 8:14 am

    You got 43 cars starting and after a few laps only 30 cars are really running and then half way maybe 12 have a chance to win. Now the NFL, its back and forth for three quarters but in the forth quarter anyone can win and with just seconds to go its a toss up. You think I want to watch 3 hours of a boring race and with 10 laps to go it might be a toss up.

  5. Michael in SoCal Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Hud McRear: I agree. The COT is no gimmick. Now, I’m not saying its perfect, but for the safety features alone, I think it is a huge disservice to call the COT a gimmick.

    zhils fan: No, not many other sports leagues have a playoff in which non-playoff contenders are still competing alongside the championship contenders. Pro golf is the only one I can think of. Personally, I think the way the Chase allows for a playoff system to be run (among a certain number of drivers) while allowing those drivers not in the championship hunt to still race and compete for individual race wins does a good job of allowing for a playoff system in Nascar. This surely beats seeing two cars driving around Homestead for 267 miles in November, if it were a real elimination playoff.

  6. Gordon86Wins Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 9:35 am

    NASCAR was on the verge of overtaking the NFL in 2003, and then they decided that they need to be more like the NFL and instituted a playoff over the loud objections of fans. It’s been downhill ever since, and the NFL even with Johnny on the Streets as the referees no longer consider NASCAR even a remote threat to their dominance. It’s almost as if the NFL found a way to put Brian France in charge.

  7. Richard Allen Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    The CoT is safer than its predecessor but any of those safety innovations could have been incorporated into cars that looked like production models and allowed for more setup options.

    The CoT in its current form is used to make all cars run basically the same speed and thus look more competitive. Also, it makes the inspection process easier for officials who are not exactly “car guys”.

    It’s a gimmick.

  8. Bill B Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I said years ago (before the chase) that the only way NASCAR can negate the NFL is to be where the NFL ain’t, and that means Saturday nights. Local tracks be damned. That would also give them a fall back day if rain is an issue during the chase. I guess that’s just too much common sense.

    NASCAR had a perfect opportunity to make this change when they instituted the chase. There are enough tracks with lights that they could easily come up with 10 tracks comparable to the current 10.

    Huds McRear,
    I agree with you. Too bad that NASCAR pissed on our heads and told us it was raining when they introduced the COT. They said it would alleviate the aero issues and create better side by side racing. It did no such thing. We all knew it wouldn’t but it’s insulting to have NASCAR think we are that stupid.

  9. Sue Rarick Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 10:17 am

    No sport is better suited for television than footbal. During the 3 hour broadcast there is really only 17-20 min of actual playing leaving the rest of the time to be filled with commercials and instant replays. And without instant replays viewers would be watching two groups of players standing around in a group drinking water for 45 seconds between each play. Over the years broadcasters have learned to use that dead time for maximum effectiveness.

    I am not a soccer fan but the reality is there is more action going on during a soccer match than there is in a football game. But like Nascar it is a really hard game to broadcast. So it’s not just a Nascar problem but a problem with any sport that doesn’t have built in breaks like football has.

  10. dawg Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Until someone else takes the reins, we’re stuck with this playoff format, which doesn’t work well for racing.

    Everyone after Matt, should have an asterisk beside his name in the Championship coulomb.

    Racing championships are, & have always been SEASON Championships.

    This current format has made the regular season a throwaway.

    Not even a stinking point for leading after the first 26.

    The only thing it’s really done, is to give the scribes something to write about after all these boring races while the drivers are points stroking, to make the almighty Chase.

  11. Russ Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Yes the NFL is the 800lb. Gorilla. But he has a baby brother in College football. Between the two of them the weekends are tough sledding for anyone else.
    Perhaps the France family could make as much money by shortening the season? But if they are making money on the Chase don’t expect anything to change.

  12. GinaV24 Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Good column, Rich. Yes, the COT was a gimmick - sold to the fans as a safer car, along with supposedly solving the aero issues. Agreed that it is safer but as you pointed out, those modifications could have been made in the old race car. Instead we have a spec car, in a series that now rewards points racing instead of having the fans involved in each race. When you make the majority of the season relevant only as to whether or not you qualify for the final 10 race trophy run, you lose a lot of people.

    Most fans are fans of a particular driver. I don’t change who I cheer for each week and I don’t change for the chase if my driver isn’t in it.

    I think your comment about “will” cause the old fans to be alienated needs to be amended to “has” caused. Brian France wanted to attention of the casual fan. The law of unintended consequences has been to turn most of the diehard fans into casual or only if I don’t have something better to do fans.

    Yep, bad business model. Take a sport that was rising on wings and run it into the ground.

  13. Gregg Stephenson Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I am not a football fan and therefore can’t comment on that aspect. However, being a NASCAR fan since 1962, I have seen many changes in the sport. Some good, some bad. First bad thing was making the auto manufacturers bow down to NASCAR in designing the race cars. In 1969and 1970, the Dodge Daytona, Plymouth Superbird and Ford Talledega debuted and dominated the sport with speeds exceeding 200 mph. Today’s cars are basically “cookie cutter” cars with the only external differences being the decals on the cars. The safety features in today’s cars are well thought out and effective. Item #2; the speeds have been kept capped at 200 mph by restrictor racing. This was a good idea in the ’70s, but as track and driver safety have improved; shouldn’t the speeds be increased by maybe 25 mph on superspeedways? Some 1.5 mile tracks are just as fast as Daytona and Talledega. Item #3; the chase format is great on paper but fails in practice. Who wants to race for a win when settling for points is a better choice for the team. Last year was an exception. “Rubbin’ is racing” has been the mantra for years. Now it is a don’t touch debacle. I don’t approve of wrecking other drivers, but racing should be an aggressive sport. Jeff Gordon has already lost a race this season by being “nice”. Item #4; NASCAR should concentrate on itself and not on other sports. That is like saying Romney approves of Obama. Item #5; the announcers should show more excitement like the radio announcers do. Try listening to the race on the radio while watching on television and you will notice the difference. Eli Gould is very good at calling races. And finally; NASCAR should go back to Friday and Saturday night racing and not go toe to toe with other sports. Most people work M-F and run errands, shop and do house and yard work on the weekends. We as fans are partially to blame because we do not voice our views to NASCAR. We also do not support the Camping World Truck series or the Nationwide series at the tracks. The ticket prices for these races are very reasonable and these races are very exciting to watch. But then again, they don’t run a chase format.

  14. Andy D Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I agree that the safety innovations in the COT could have been done in a car that resembled production machines. The safety spiel was a diversion for NASCAR’s true purpose.

    Detroit was having severe financial difficulty and racing budgets were putting a strain on them. They weren’t getting the return that they were used to because of an increased emphasis on other sponsors. NASCAR wanted an in-house product that would allow them to continue if one or all the car companies pulled out. Bill France Sr. took a similar attitude in 1970 when the aero-wars escalated. He didn’t want Detroit calling the shots.

    NASCAR wants to dictate every facet of the racing. Their ideal scenario would be 12 four car teams running spec cars. They want to build an NFL with cars.

  15. Bill B Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    The only good thing about the COT is that it has stopped all the whining about this manufacturer having an advantage over that manufacturer. It has been nice not hearing about adding an inch to the bumper on the dodges or raising the spoiler a half of inch on the chevys. Now no one can bitch. They all have the same POS.

  16. tyler west Says:
    September 26th, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Nascar has become nothing but a gimmick! They are so lost it’s not even funny anymore. France is an idiot and the rest of his underlings are no better. It’s a soap opera posing as a sport. I hate to say that but it is true. This idiot has killed a great southern sport. It is a shame. What dumbass would ever try to take on the NFL? There’s at least 1. I have no problem with the racing on the track but it’s all the other crap I’m sick of. Too many fools blowing smoke up each others rear. It’s way too PC! It’s a joke!!