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Will a revitalization of Junior Nation help ratings and attendance?

By admin | May 28, 2009

By Richard Allen

It has finally happened. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has a new crew chief.

So, will there be a revitalization of the ‘Junior Nation’?

It is not exactly a well kept secret that NASCAR attendance and television ratings have been on the decline for a while now. It could be that the decline relates directly to the less than stellar performance of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. over the last 3-4 seasons.

After all, Junior is the sport’s most recognized media personality. And, it can be difficult to continually market your most known commodity when that commodity is putting forth below average results.

Junior easily has the most fans in the grandstands at just about every race. However, even the most die-hard of the so called ‘Junior Nation’ had to have lost a little faith during the hard times of the most recent seasons.

I had a long time race fan, who is also a Junior fan, tell me a while back that he was not going to anymore races or buying anymore souvenirs until he saw better performance. According to this fan, it was just too frustrating going to all the effort required to make it to a race knowing that his favorite driver would not run well.

Particularly among casual fans, this could be a ‘tune in to see what happens’ moment.

An example of this possible effect comes from the world of golf. Look at what happened to golf attendance and television ratings last year when Tiger Woods left the tour to have knee surgery. Then, look at what happened to attendance and ratings when he came back this year.

Granted, Earnhardt has not been away. But based on his recent performance, he might as well have been.

No doubt, there will be at least a few, if not many, who will tune into the next few races to see if the change from Tony Eury, Jr. to Lance McGrew will make a difference in Junior’s #88 team. If there is indeed an improvement, those ‘fans’ might hang around throughout the rest of the season. If not, any bump in the number of seats filled and televisions tuned in will be short lived.

Ultimately, there is a chance that the ‘Junior Nation’ may be back at full strength, at least for a little while.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

2 Responses to “Will a revitalization of Junior Nation help ratings and attendance?”

  1. Charles Says:
    May 29th, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Look I like Dale Jr, and him winning might help a little, but this a double edged issue!

    One of the problems with Nascar is Favoritism! Dale Jr might have the most fans, but I remember in the 70s when Richard Petty or David Pearson had a bad year, and probably the most fans, NASCAR didnt use that as a attendance issue or excuse to help or cater to them!
    You dont put one compeditor in head of the other for the good of the sport!
    Every paying fan when he or she goes to a race needs to know they all have a even chance!

    Dale Jr and his dad was good for Nascar, so was Petty Pearson, Yarbrough, Allisons!

    Racing has always had self made hereos including the ones above, and using one high profile driver as a excuse for poor rating is not right! Or effortss to appease that group could cause another group who dont pull for that driver to stay home, its kinda like when Nascar closed North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, one race at Darlington, they seen all these “new fans” in ‘new markets’, but they didnt see all the’” fans they lost” because of this, I still think this had a bigger negative impact on Nascar!

  2. Ken Says:
    May 29th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    The change is a double edged sword for NA$CAR. The interest will pickup for a few races regardless. m However, if Jr. does not improve, the Jr. fans may leave forever. Their hope of success will be dashed and there is no other excuse they can use for the lack of success. NA$CAR would then need to get Danica so we can start the farce all over again.