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NASCAR’s problems are Junior’s fault

By admin | November 11, 2009

By Richard Allen

In an impromptu interview of NASCAR Chairman Brian France conducted by reporter Dustin Long in Texas the NASCAR boss gave an assessment of the sport he runs and of the coverage of that sport by its media contingent.

According to France, the sport is suffering because some of its major stars, namely Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carl Edwards, are having bad seasons. And so, their fans are under the misguided perception that the racing is bad due to the winless seasons being experienced by their favorite drivers.

So, let’s be clear. Races being run with virtually no passing has nothing to do with fans losing interest. Races decided by pit stops rather than racing on the track is immaterial. Cars that look exactly alike no matter what brand they are is a non-factor. NASCAR removing all possibility of ingenuity and instead becoming a racing parts distributor is a non-issue. Corporate clone drivers with little if any personality is inconsequential. Inconsistent and unpredictable handling of rules and rule violations does not matter.

France’s views show once more how out of touch the leadership of the sport has become. He, the supposed head of the sport, admitted that he had not seen the much discussed broadcast of the Talladega race. How could the leader of a sport not go back and watch a broadcast that was so controversial? For that matter, how could the leader of the sport not be in attendance at virtually every event AND go back and watch the broadcast?

I watch every race and it’s not my job to guide the sport.

Would the commissioner of the NFL not go back and look into such an event in his sport? He almost certainly would.

NASCAR writers are very often accused of taking the easy way by writing stories about Junior rather than digging deeper and finding a real news story. In this case, it appears as though the NASCAR Chairman has opted for the same strategy.

France’s laying at least some of the blame at the feet of the sport’s most popular driver has one obvious flaw. What does he then say if Junior wins one of the last two races of the season or opens next year by winning the Daytona 500 and attendance remains low?

Aside from throwing Junior and Edwards under the bus, France reverted to the old NASCAR standbys of blaming the media and the economy for fan disinterest. Apparently, fans would not notice all of the issues mentioned above if television, radio and print media did not bring them up. And for whatever reason, the economy is forcing fans to turn their televisions off as well when they should be watching in higher numbers if they were still in love with the sport.

NASCAR and its leadership are like the little boy sticking his finger in the dam to plug a leak, except there are many leaks. Someday, if the sanctioning body does not start to address the issues that are causing fan apathy they are going to run all out of fingers.

NASCAR’s own decision making has led to the issues of the day. Of course, the economy has played some role and the fact that the sport’s most popular drivers are not winning probably does contribute to the fan apathy. But, the real issues are the ones NASCAR itself has brought on. It is up to them to realize and then address those issues.

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

Here is a link to the transcript of the Long/France conversation:

Topics: Articles |

14 Responses to “NASCAR’s problems are Junior’s fault”

  1. zhills fan Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 5:12 am

    I still feel the most important factor for poor racing and race attendance is the COT car. IROC failed (with the best of the best drivers) and the COT car has created the same problem as the IROC cars created by being all the same.

  2. Connie Greenup Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I think that it is about time that NASCAR admit that the problem with the fact that they are losing fans has nothing to do with the drivers or the announcing. Since NASCAR started trying to change the image of the drivers and brought on the COT, it is no longer fun to watch the races and listen to the interviews. My husband and I have been fans for a very long time and have been to many races but we no longer enjoy watching the races on tv or at the tracks Take off the blinders and admit your faults.

  3. LC Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Yes it is the same old NASCAR, Brian keeps his head in the sand, and his minions say “thats a good look for you your majesty” It’s always the same, a kid inherits a dynasty and then proceeds to run it into the ground. Enjoy it while it lasts Brian, before you know it you’ll be looking for a real job.

  4. BW Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    IROC failed b/c it was never easy to find on TV. Too many tape delays. Went to a few of their races and the running was exciting but NASCAR never really backed it.

  5. BW Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 11:01 am

    no mention of the Chase fiasco either… just doesn’t work for the sport.

  6. Gina Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Boy you hit it right on all points. Are there a lot of disappointed Jr and Edwards fans out there? Sure there are, but if the racing were better, more people would still watch on TV.

    I am so insulted by the comments from Nascar and its minions that the fans only think the racing is bad because the media says so. Nope, I’ve ATTENDED several races this year where if I could have found a place to lie down, I’d have taken a nap. At least at home, I can get something else done. I know longer watch all the pre-race (too long) and the entire race. I usually tune in for the start, first 10 laps, then go off and do something else until they get to the last 30 laps and might actually race. Of course having a car that is generic and tracks that are generic and the lead car gets out to a 5 to 8 second lead and no one can pass doesn’t make me feel like I need to watch it from flag to flag. Plus the TV coverage is just stupid — stop focusing on the chase from daytona on — fans watch to see their driver compete on EACH track — not points race from the first race to the last. BORING!

  7. Gina Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    oh yeah and at home, if I want to take a nap during the race, I can.

  8. bigwayne Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I want to puke everytime I here someone say THE CHASE. Worst thing Nascar ever thought of.

  9. midasmicah Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Hey Rich. I’ve been hearing and reading where the media is at fault for the bad reputation nas$car is getti ng. That means they’re also blaming you. That’s crap. The sad thing is they’re also blaming the fans for responding in negative terms. This is also co ming from the drivers. The drivers have become vanilla robots programed to say what nas$crap tells them to. After Talladega, there was some flack from the drivers. This week they’ve backed off per usual. And Stewart blames the media for fermenting the idea that the racing is bad. Hello!!!!! The racing is horrible. Tell Stewart that if I actually see him at Office depot or Burger King buyinf a whopper I might teake him seriously. I feel for Jr. I’ve never been a fan of his, but to blame him for fakiling tv and attendence just shows how bad it is. Mr. Francy Pants and his cohorts in their ivory towers at Daytona have lost all touch with reality. And now they’re blaming the media which in reality is blaming the fans. Geez!!!!! Once again, thanks for listening.

  10. midasmicah Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    By the way, JJ’s car without the decals and paint job after his wreck at Texas looked exactly like what it is. An IROC car.

  11. chris Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    The problem with NASCAR starts at the top…and as they say - S**T flows downstream! For starters, the CHASE has to be the biggest mistake made. A close second is the COT/IROC car. Races are not that much fun to watch anymore. Things need to go back to the way it use to be. Quit blaming JR and everybody else. Just remember when NASCAR points the finger at drivers, they have three pointing back at them!! FIX YOUR PROBLEMS YOU CREATED NASCAR!!! Go JR!!

  12. mike Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    As someone that remembers when IROC started, it was great. Same cars, world class drivers from various series, varied types of tracks. Fantastic racing & showcase of driver talent. Then it started going mostly nascar drivers, all nascar tracks & to the toilet. It’s a shame so many that never saw the real IROC, remember only the farce nascar made it!

  13. Marybeth Says:
    November 12th, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    “NASCAR writers are very often accused of taking the easy way by writing stories about Junior rather than digging deeper and finding a real news story. In this case, it appears as though the NASCAR Chairman has opted for the same strategy.”
    Last spring, Nascar Now started reporting that Tony Jr. was still making Jr.’s cars from DEI specs from 2007. Why was that allowed to go on…? At the Charlotte race a few weeks ago, I read in the prerace report they said that Jr. would be driving the car he finished 27th in Pocono in June. I knew then it would be an uphill battle for the weekend. Lance had made 2, 1 1/2 mile track cars for Jr. Why wasn’t he given one of these cars? Was Brad driving one? With all of the money Jr. is bringing into HMS why isn’t some of it being used to hire a top tier crew chief, like Addington, hired for him. Throughout the Texas race, the 88 was one of the first cars called in for green pitstops. At the end of the race and for the last green pitstop, he radioed in 10 laps before he finally was called in that he wanted to pit then. The 5 pitted, later the 24 pitted. Finally the 88 was called to the pit. He ran out of gas on pit road before he got to his pit. He took off and the car stalled. He was left out on pit road alone. He radioed “Isn’t anyone going to help me?” No one did. No one showed up with a can of ether, or whatever it is they spray in the top, no one came to push him. He ended up 3 laps down and 25th. Where was this Hendrick philosophy of teamwork for Junior…? Is he an orphan? On Nascar Now, Boris Said asked ‘why did they run him out of gas’? No one answered him. For all the money Jr. is bringing into HMS alone, he deserves better.
    I would really like to see someone do a story about Jr. explaining this. I would like to know what is going on.

  14. dick postma Says:
    March 23rd, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Its a lot of fun to watch the same team win week after week. (not) Shame on the rest of the field when they can’t figure out how to run with the 24, 48, 05 . Of course I will hear from the 48 lovers that he is just that much better of a driver. Maybe so, but it was a lot more fun to watch when you didn’t know who was going to win. So when 48 is up front with 50 laps to go I turn it off