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Now, time for that town-hall meeting between NASCAR and its fans?

Another Dale Earnhardt Jr. win might be good for the sport. He won Michigan last summer...though it was a gas mileage win (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   It's been exactly one year since NASCAR's bosses held their infamous 'Shut and race' meeting with Sprint Cup drivers.
   What a difference a year makes: just a couple of weeks ago, amid still slumping TV ratings (and Fox' sports boss David Hill is not a bit happy with NASCAR over that) and off-crowds, NASCAR executives held a quite different meeting with drivers. This time it was 'What can we do to make this whole thing better?'
    Maybe that's the approach NASCAR should have taken a year ago.
    But is anything really going to change now? Or will NASCAR simply go with more of the Same-old, Same-old?
    Maybe it's time for NASCAR officials to have some town-hall meeting with fans, the ones paying all the bills for this sport.
    The biggest thing apparently coming out of that Charlotte meeting was a decidedly upbeat and positive twist on things from drivers.
    Carl Edwards, perhaps the best driver on the tour still winless this season, says don't look at the glass as half-empty:
    "At the town-hall meeting we had the other day, we talked about all being in this together and providing the best we can for the fans.
    "If we can keep that attitude and make this sport the best it can be, when the economy comes back up, I feel we'll be stronger and have more fans.
    "So I'm positive about it. 
    "I've gone to local dirt tracks and seen nobody making any money, and a hundred people in the stands…and I'm telling you we've still got a great thing going here. 
    "You won't hear me complain.
  "If you look at the whole economy -- I guess the stock market's down, what, 35 percent from October 2007. 
    "If you look at the whole economy and the percentage that it's down, I feel NASCAR is doing relatively well.
    "We provide a sport, entertainment to fans, and our ticket sales are based on people's discretionary income, and their willingness to spend it to come enjoy our sport.
    "So considering we're only down whatever small amount we are (11 percent in TV ratings), I think we're doing really well."
   In the Charlotte meeting with NASCAR "There were opinions discussed…and ideas thrown around," Edwards says. 
    "The one thing that came out of it so far is the double-file restarts, which everyone pretty much agreed is good."
    Now the new double-file restart rule, debuted to much hoopla last weekend at Pocono, didn't add much to that show, which devolved into a gas mileage race at the end.
    But at least it was a new rule, and implemented surprisingly swiftly. "I was shocked," Jeff Burton says of NASCAR's speed.
    So what next out of Daytona?
    That remains to be seen.
    "But I think the thing that came out that's most positive," Edwards says "is the idea that 'Hey, it's not NASCAR versus the drivers, or NASCAR versus the car owners, we're all in this together.'
    "That's the first time I've heard that kind of message come straight from (NASCAR CEO) Brian France and (NASCAR president) Mike Helton and all those folks. 
    "They said 'Hey, lay it on us -- what do you guys think?'
    "That kind of relationship will be good for the sport. That's the good thing that came out of it."
    But hopefully it didn't come a year too late.

Carl Edwards needs a win too. He says if everyone stays upbeat and positive, then NASCAR will emerge from this downturn stronger (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Ha! With all due respect to

Ha! With all due respect to Carl's upbeat comments, I don't believe at all that NASCAR will do anything that actually improves the racing. To do that, they'd have to FIX the stupid car so it was adjustable enough to actually race, tear up some of the cookie-cutter tracks so the fans don't just see high speed parades and get a tire manufacturer that can build a tire that the COT can actually perform with. That should have been done in conjunction with the testing on the car BEFORE it ever got onto the track in actual racing, get rid of the fake championship that is decided over 10 races.

I remember being disgusted last year with the "shut up and race" meeting. I guess NASCAR figures the fans are so stupid that so long as the driver's were/are saying that everything is fine with racing, then the fans won't notice that the performance on the track is worthless. Guess that didn't work out too well. I understand the economy's role in people not going to tracks, but the fact that people aren't watching it on TV either is a direct result of terrible broadcasting by all the TV partners and the fact that the product on the track with the IROC POS car is not worth spending four hours of time watching.

Darned if I don't agree with

Darned if I don't agree with you on just about every point.....the fact that TV ratings are down -- for Fox, in the spring, with little competition -- is worriesome, with the NFL coming up this fall. Myself, I think it's time for Brian France and Jim France and Lesa France Kennedy to really start shaking and baking.
I don't guess you'd be in favor of 'crate' engines, would you?

Nascar gave us basically,

Nascar gave us basically, another gimmick (double file restarts, rather than make any real fixes. They don't really have to meet with the fans. If they read the internet over the past 3 or 4 years, they should have a very good idea what the fans think needs to be changed. The chances of that are slim and none, since it would mean the power that be in Daytona would have to admit that they have made some huge blunders in the decisions over the last few years. I can't see that happening any time soon.

Unless NASCAR is willing to

Unless NASCAR is willing to change the disgraceful championship system they have their ratings are going to continue to fall. Why would people bother to watch when you are going to start all over again in 3 months?

Congrats NASCAR... you've become college basketball

The problems with the ratings

The problems with the ratings and the overall decline in the sport showed up shortly after Bill Jr. stepped down and his son took over. He tried taking part of a championship system used by another racing series instead of taking the whole thing which actually would've made for an interesting season finale. He replaced one car that was an aero dependent used bar of soap looking thing with an aero dependent shoe box with wheels. The cookie cutter tracks which were boring before became even more so with the introduction of the clown, I mean clone cars. The only thing keeping NASCAR from being a totally spec car series is using crate engines. Almost everything else is mandated. The way to turn things around? Can Brian France and replace him with Humpy Wheeler. At least Humpy appreciates the sport and the fans. You can't say that about Brian, who only shows up for photo ops and press conferences and won't be seen dead with real race fans.

Until Nascars starts giving

Until Nascars starts giving 'incentive to lead laps" early and mid portains of a race, with the Chase being more important than the race!
You are basically seting for 4 hours to watch a 30 minute racing at the end!

I will garantee you that if enough incentive is given to lead laps you will be more passing and for the fans better racing!


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