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Is NASCAR losing credibility among its fans?

  Maybe it's time to ask Bruton Smith about the state of NASCAR. After all, Smith has more than a little skin in this game too (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   FORT WORTH, Texas
   The rebounding American economy certainly has to be good news for NASCAR men trying to persuade U.S. companies to invest in their own particular businesses, be it race teams or race tracks.
   And with the looming prospect of another debilitating round of NASCAR job cuts for crewmen, and maybe some drivers too, at the end of the season – while many of the 1,000 or so laid off at the end of 2008 are still job-hunting themselves – a good shot of positive economic news like this week shows is positive news on the economic front.
     Maybe there is still time for NASCAR to jump onboard this train and milk something out of the dwindling season. There are only 18 days left…but maybe NASCAR can pull something off at the awards banquet in Las Vegas -- where a flurry of news stories from NASCAR could erupt, to try to pique everyone's interest.
   Now if NASCAR execs can just hop this freight.
   Kyle Petty has described NASCAR as rudderless. 
   And NASCAR is losing credibility among its fans.
   Sunday's Talladega 500 may well have been an example.
   NASCAR bosses had nearly six months, from late April when Carl Edwards' flipping crash at Talladega pointed up a major issue, to respond to the issue, and yet they did virtually nothing: the fences were raised, which should have been done years ago, and engine horsepower was cut maybe 12 mph by a tiny restrictor plate cut.
   And what happened Sunday? Ryan Newman went flying and flipping, and so did Mark Martin, in two separate incidents – late-race, after drivers decided once again to ride around for as long as they could without rocking the boat by actually racing each other.
   So far NASCAR's response has been to point to a ton of lead changes and to blame ABC for having the nerve to point out the racing was boring – which drivers themselves were doing on their own radios to their crews.
   Ryan Newman says NASCAR itself has "created a lot of the boredom…because we couldn't race. It is survival.
   "I just hate it for the fans."
   Jeff Gordon says it's boring racing for so long because "we know what we're up against. And why go out there and beat and bang and turn one another sideways in the first 100 or 200 miles?
    "You want to make this a really exciting race for the whole race -- make it 200 miles.
    "But unfortunately the rules that we have are going to play out: The cars suck up too much (in the draft). They need to change that for this race track, or it's just going to happen every single time.
   "The (new) car is in a box, there's no doubt about that. Ever since this car has come about, we've seen pretty much the same results at Talladega.
    "NASCAR obviously sees what's going on…and we leave it up to them to make the call."
    The pre-race drivers meeting left everyone confused. ABC says that it asked NASCAR president Mike Helton to come on camera and explain things but that he declined.
    Many fans are rightly angry about it all; and their comments are all over the web.
    So tracks can cut ticket prices to zero, but fans would still have to paid enormous hotel bills and other expenses, and these next few weeks it will be interesting to see just who bothers responding to the PR efforts by NASCAR's many tracks to buy tickets for 2010.
   Unless NASCAR boss Jim France steps to the plate and shakes things up among his staff, it might be a long, cold winter.
   And NASCAR officials have only themselves to blame for some of the PR problems this sport is facing. They have continued to insist, for some two years now, that things are going to be fine if we're all just patient. NASCAR insists the car-of-tomorrow is doing just fine. NASCAR says it still likes the chase (even though Johnson has dominated it four straight years now) and the 10 tracks in it.
   It's time for NASCAR bosses to man-up about all this.
   NASCAR almost seems to be in denial that its car-of-tomorrow and championship chase simply aren't producing the anticipated results.
   When drivers complain, they're told to shut up and race.
   When the media points out the issues, NASCAR complains of its 'negativism.'
   And NASCAR seems to be trying to intimidate what little media there is left still covering this sport. (Quick, how many full-time media are covering the full 38-race Sprint Cup tour?)
   Maybe it would help if NASCAR executives themselves were more positive and responsive.
   Bill France Jr. would have been front-and-center in all this, defending his sport, and certainly willing to make changes if necessary. During the past several weeks of controversy – from the latest Jeremy Mayfield twists to the J. C. France issue, and the still slumping TV ratings, and the problems of low ticket renewals at the sport's Los Angeles anchor – NASCAR CEO Brian France has been invisible, despite requests that he appear to address the 'state of the sport.'
   NASCAR executives and officials need to be more 'fan friendly,' and more accessible, and more willing to acknowledge some things may need to change.

   Sunday's Talladega 500 may just be the latest flashpoint.
   When NASCAR officials stood up in the pre-race drivers meeting and announced they would firmly enforce a 'no bump-drafting' in the corners rule, drivers were stunned, and they peppered officials with a flurry of questions unlike in any drivers' meeting in quite a while. Almost like drivers giving NASCAR officials a vote of no-confidence. Then drivers spent the first two hours of the race running single-file.
   Such an enforcement policy could have been announced anytime following the April race.
   And then all NASCAR did was issue some general 'warnings' to all teams during the race not to get too aggressive.
   So what were drivers to do? After all, consider the speeding on pit road penalty NASCAR slapped Juan Pablo Montoya with at Indianapolis while he was on his way to winning one of this sport's biggest races….and consider that record-breaking fine and penalty in May on lowly Carl Long, a good-guy journeyman….and consider the Mayfield situation, which at times has looked like a vendetta against another lowly driver who dares to stand up to NASCAR….
   Yes, this sport has some problems….and its biggest problem now may be the image of NASCAR bosses as arrogant and petulant.
   But fans may be voting with their wallets and their TV remotes….not voting against the sport, though there are too many boring races and a number of aggravating technical issues, but rather against NASCAR's perceived arrogance in all this.
   Is NASCAR just fiddling away while the sport burns down?
   Of course NASCAR can push some of its house shills to cameras and try to denigrate those who object to some things that are going on….
   And NASCAR – it is a family-owned business, remember – certainly has a lot of clout.

Mike, do you remember the

Mike, do you remember the TRAC (Team Racing Auto Championship?) series that Humpy and Bruton tried to pull off a few years ago? Did you do any stories on that? I'm sure, myself as well as others online would love to read them.

I'm curious to look at what the TRAC series wanted to offer the fans racing wise with what's currently out there. Several things are becoming somewhat similar: RACE CARS: TRAC series racers: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Vipers. NASCAR new N'wide COT's: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Challenger and Toyota Camry TRAC series: RACE TEAM OWNERSHIP: Franchised with 2-car race teams representing US cities and metro regions from New York to California, like the NFL or other pro sports. NASCAR: One racing "operation" can run up to 4 race teams from establishment.

Not sure if the cars were being prepared IROC-style, under one roof or separate garages. Anyway, Thanks.

Here is why Jeff Gordon et al

Here is why Jeff Gordon et al have no more credibility than NASCAR - "the cars suck up too much in the draft....they have to change that."

This is mind-blowing - drivers DON'T WANT ability to pass? Everywhere else the sport races the rule is dirty air STOPS cars from passing - at Talladega dirty air is the ally of passing - and it's made things unsafe?

"Why (race) for the first 200 miles?" Because you can't win if you don't lead - no one who was points-racing out of the top 20 in the first 200-plus miles was relevant to the outcome in the final 200-plus miles - Jimmie Johnson wasn't, Reed Sorenson wasn't, nobody who didn't fight for anything was relevant to the outcome.

And after Joey Logano's melee at Dover, the multicar crashes at Pocono, Watkins Glen, and New Hampshire etc., and the fact that driver deaths and injuries are not happening in restrictor plate racing but are happening everywhere else, the premise that Talladega represents some unacceptable threat to the lives of people is an utter insult to competition and basic intelligence.

This is the most maddening part of the discussion - the drivers are the ones who must shoulder the blame yet refuse to accept it.

Revolution Its about damn


Its about damn time

Amen. My sentiments exactly.

Amen. My sentiments exactly. BOYCOTT!!!! How shall we do it? Go on youtube.com. Do our own videos hatin' NA$CAR and destroying sponsors products, like smashin' BUDWEISER, COORS LIGHT beer bottles, SETTING FIRE TO HOME DEPOT AND LOWE'S newspaper ads, RIPPING UP FED-EX AND UPS BOXES, CRUSHING M&M's, AMP's, KELLOGG'S, CHEERIOS, well you get the point. Do it online and these companies will cringe. If many of the NASCAR NATION do it, the sponsors will react...FAN LOYALTY means a lot!

WScott34 - I think the

WScott34 - I think the sponsors are just as frustrated with NASCAR as the fans are. They rely on fans coming to the events, watching on TV and on good racing to keep them coming back. NASCAR is driving away sponsors as much as they are the fans. To what someone else had posted, I really hope people at NASCAR read threads like this and start seeing what they've done to a sport that once had a lot of potential.

geez Mike your just starting

geez Mike your just starting to realize this, to us fans NA$CAR, is just a circus anymore, the real racing died when Brian France took over.
If you think the stands were empty at Taladega, just wait till Homestead.

Stick a fork in it, Mike, if I were you I'd start brushing up on my football and basketball knowledge so you can keep writing about sports.

Losing credibility? Wrong

Losing credibility? Wrong tense, NASCAR HAS already lost its credibility with the fans, the drivers and since its answer to most issues is intimidation of whomever tries to bring up a topic that NASCAR doesn't like, nothing gets done.

Jeff Gordon was pointing out a problem with the way the POS car handles at Talladega and asking that things be worked out to make the car driveable and therefore competitive, so don't act like he's the one with the problems. The bar of soap of wheels has had a lot of issues at the RP tracks from the beginning and since they fly whenever they turn backward, its time for NASCAR to make the daggone thing raceable if they are going to insist on using it.

If you watched any of the race on Sunday, Jeff was up front and RACING all day, unlike the current points leader who was hiding in the back all day so he didn't lose points. Yeah, quite a champion we have there in Johnson.

No, Anonymous, what Gordon

No, Anonymous, what Gordon was doing was whining. Saying "the cars suck up too much" is stupidity squared. As for losing credibility with the drivers, you have it backwards - it is the drivers who have a credibility problem after they were the ones who fought for "no bump" zones at Talladega.

NA$CRAP has been in a

NA$CRAP has been in a downword spiral ever since NUMB NUTS took over as the president. The first thing he does is piss alot a people off by taking dates from Rockingham and Darlington and gives them to Crapifornia, Kansas and Chicago. Why? Because they(France Family) are GREEDY!! They figure they can make more in "BIG MARKETS" How is that working out? Not good from what i can see you can't sell tickets at these "BIG MARKET" tracks and alot of people left when you started pulling old school tracks off the schedule. Then they jumped the shark with that Chase for the Chumps thing to add excitement to the end of the season. How is that working out? 184 point lead vs a 7 point lead with the old system. Real exciting. As long as NUMB NUTS is calling the shots NA$CRAP will slowly fade away. If there is a pile of sh** in the yard NA$crap will go out of its way to step in it.

There are 4 to 6 too many

There are 4 to 6 too many races in the season. Even the most rabid fans are having trouble staying enthused following a race series that starts in February and runs through November. Futhermore, the Bud Shootout and Charlotte All-Star races have long passed their expiration dates. A 30 to 32 race schedule is more than enough.

And except for the Daytona 500, all 500-mile, or 500-lap races need to be cut to 400-miles or 400-laps to ease the boredom of "just cutting laps".

Give more points for winning a race. And for those who finish 30th or worse, they should get the same, minimal points.

And while I'm stuffing the suggestion box, NASCAR Cup events should cut the starting fields to 40 cars for tracks over 1 mile and 36 cars for tracks under a mile.

Mike, I have been attending

Mike, I have been attending NASCAR races since 1980, attending as many as 12 a year through the 80's, down to 7 a year through the since due to cost to attend. But with the state of the sport this year I am not even renewing my seven Bristol tickets that I have had since 1989. The racing as it is today is pitiful and any true fan can see no matter how NASCAR tries to spin it. Looks like local short tracks are the only way to see good racing these days. Good luck NASCAR you have now lost a thirty year fan.

Mike, well said. I have been

Mike, well said. I have been discouraged by this sport for a number of years now. Ive been around it my whole life and it is sad to see somthing that has been so good to me over the years and meant so much to me go down the tubes to the point that i dont even care about watching anymore. sunday was the first race in months that had was looking forward to, i was telling everyone watch talledega its always good, one of the few races left worth watching. what happened? the race was a boring one. i commented to my friends what i thought would happen:they would start to race hard with 15 or so to go, and there will be a big wreck so that we would have a green white checkered finish and then there would be a wreck during that and end under yellow....sorry to say i was right. nascar needs to wake up, brian france has ruined this sport because of his greediness and selfish denial or what state the sport is in. his grandather and father must be rolling in their graves because of how him and the rest of nascar has killed the sport.
Mike Mason, New Hampshire

The better question is not

The better question is not "are they losing credibility with the fans?", but rather "have they already lost credibility with the fans?". I've followed NASCAR for decades, attending my first race in the early 80's, back when the cars were 'stock' and the drivers actually raced; since then NASCAR has turned into spec car racing. It's no wonder IROC closed shop, it was in direct competition with NASCAR.

There are many things NASCAR can do to fix this issue:

1. Use factory sheet metal. If one of the manufacturers shows up to the track with an inferior car, send them back to the drawing board, don't penalize the manufacturers that actually design something that works.

2. Force the cars to be aero dirty, and make the tires wider. The problem is that aero grip has become so important that only the 'extremely rich' teams can massage a body to get optimal performance. Back in the day when physical grip was the most important factor, we got to see the drivers race and drive the cars, not putter around single file trying not to scratch their 'perfect sheet metal'.

3. The dumb, dumb award. How about this, when a driver pulls a stupid move, sit him out a week (Robby Gordon might have to sit out a lot of races).

4. Give drivers points for their position at various spots in the race. Extra points for starting position, and points based on where they are running at 4 or 5 various times in the race. Maybe then Jimmie Johnson wouldn't just ride around in 38th position all day, and collect 8th place points for a lucky finish.

NASCAR should be about racing, it just isn't anymore.

"Is NASCAR losing credibility

"Is NASCAR losing credibility among it's fans?" I can only assume this is a rhetorical question...
I love it that they trumped two awards for listening to the fans. hahahaha...

Mike, you hit the nail on the

Mike, you hit the nail on the headwith this article. If King Brian and the suits in charge don't wake up soon, there won't be any fans left in Na$car. The COT is crap, the drivers don't like it as the "RACIN" has been taken out of the race. If King Brian and his cohorts would listen to the drivers and make the car raceable again, maybe there wouldn't be as many empty seats come Sunday afternoon. I used to attend 3-4 races a year for the past 10 years. I have been following Na$car for close to 20 years. This year I did not attend 1 race. Granted, the price of tickets keep going up, the price of gas is up, not to mention the hotel costs; but the main reason I did not attend is the lack of real "Racin". I have friends who have season tickets to Martinsville, Darlington, and Bristol. They have anywhere from 7-12 tickets at each track. This is the 1st year that they were stuck with extra tickets, as people who used to go with them, including me, all feel the same way about Na$car. I still watch the races at home, when my Pittsburgh Steelers are not on. I used to put Na$car 1st, and DVR the NFL. Now it is the other way around. While I am on my rage, please can someone get rid of Dr Jerry Punch. BSPN is not helping Na$car, it is hurting them almost as much as the COT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From ibsidw2: We have to

From ibsidw2: We have to agree on all that's been said. The only thing that bothers me is that us fans are the only ones reading it. Do you really think that the "three stooges" of nascar really read this stuff?

I think that if Bill France

I think that if Bill France Sr and Jr came back and saw WHAT brian has done to their nascar,they would probably send him for a job at say Waly's or Kmart.brain has ruined nascar since the day he took over. Along with getting greedy with money, money, favorites, changing the rules written in pencil,the crap car, and also the month of pictures, stories of Mayfield being a druggie, when his own nephew, the driver france, was picked up for drunk and drugs. Jeremy wishes that his being accused was thrown under the rug like jc's has been.Things are not fair,it's not enjoyable anymore.Yes, it would seem like brian would listen to us fans but he can't be bothered.One day when no one wants to sponsor any more, or no fan comes to the track, maybe than the eyes will see that something has happened. There won't be any money coming in to buy favors or ruin a driver's career.Yes, better wake up and do things right!!!. Right all the wrongs, and than listen to the drivers about the car. Not brian saying it's all right. brian, let Jeremy go from the bogus charges and listen to the drivers about the car and racing. Maybe you'd have some fans coming to the races.Start wearing regular eye glasses instead of the rose colored ones that you wear.

Nascar has lost fan support

Nascar has lost fan support and 9 of us going to Dega in the spring since 2000 are calling it quits. We travel 1200 miles to go to this race and last year we spent over a $1000.00 in gas to get there at 3.80 a gallon. Die hard we were. We rent an rv and buy tickets and it is not a cheap trip. not only will Nascar lose but also the rental place and gas co. and walmart where we buy our food and beer. We are not going back again to watch a parade like this fall race was and let them implement a stupid rule just before the race. We lose and it is not worth it to watch a snooze fest race. We are also tired of johnson winning all the time and this bogus great chase format they have to let johnson win every year. Nascar doesn't give a crap about the fans. They pad their pockets as we take it and we ain't taking it anymore. Come on all fan's lets show them who really pays the bills in this sport and stop watching and attending all the races. Maybe then they will see who matters. If that works then lets do the same with congress. United we stand divided we fall. Lets take back our sport and then our government

Hi Mike Nice site and I wish

Hi Mike
Nice site and I wish I had found it sooner. I am 77 years old and was a fairly well known driver on the East Coast with S.C.O.D.A. (Sports Car Owner And Driver Association) and various outlaw motorcycle racing organizations. My last days racing were for Yamaha as a member of California's East Bay Road Racing Team. I have been an avid NASCAR fan as far back as I can remember and never had very many things to gripe about but that has changed in the last couple of years.
I like all the safety changes as concerns car design and safer barriers, mandatory Hans devise and no bump drafting in the corners. I do have a problem with people such as Sam Hornish who is involved in a wreck just about every week. I think what we need is stricter drivers tests for some of these so called "drivers". Dumb reactions are as bad as rough driving and the problem with Sam is a left over from his open wheel days. When you are tapped in an open wheeled car (I drove TQ's also) the tendancy is to move away as quick as you can. While that works well with open wheel cars because of the room around the two involved it does not work at 190 to 200 miles per hour in a crowd. I think NASCAR should start taking a close look at some of the guys when they are involved so often.
Keep up the good work.

hey, thanks! we cover all Cup

hey, thanks! we cover all Cup races (about 800 stories and 175 videos so far this season), so feel free to browse through the library. if you do the RSS feed and put it on your browsers bookmarks toolbar, it's like an easy glance at the headlines of the latest 20 stories I've posted. i agree sam needs to take a little more care.....but he is trying. and this stuff ain't easy. at least he's dedicated to nascar (which looks like more than we can expect from danica).
What Sam said after the race: "I got hit by David Reutimann and was trying to catch it, and then got into Jimmie. I feel bad for him because I didn’t want to take him out.
"One of the things that we’ve been trying to work on the past couple of weeks is patience -- and doing what we can do to make it to the end.
"I was just trying to correct it and not get into Jimmie. I knew he was up there and wanted to give him room.
"It kind of stems from a couple guys in front of us trying to get the bottom: I’ve got Mark Martin in front of me and Jimmie beside me; I just can't move Mark out of the way; and I'm not going to try to move Jimmie up.
"Instead I get hit from behind.
"It's just an unfortunate set of circumstances. Obviously you don't ever want to detract from the championship when you're really not even involved in it."

PRICELESS - an article about

PRICELESS - an article about credibility headed up by a picture of the notorious Bruton Smith. I know some people in Wilkes County who will get a hoot out of this. Thank you.

Here are just a few of

Here are just a few of Nascar's problems.

"Debris" yellows to manipulate the race. Tire cautions. Restrictor plates. Cars that look like they're from Europe. Loudmouth obnoxious announcers. "Lucky Dog" nonsense. "Race for the Chase" and "The Chase" itself. The so called "racing" is anything but racing. Nascar has become the WWF only less popular.

I'm finished!

Well, I agree with some of

Well, I agree with some of your points, like those debris cautions and restrictor plates (cut horsepower instead) and crazy-looking common template COTs, and some of those guys up in the TV booth could do with a few less boogities (pretty childish, i think). The playoffs have strong points, but you're right, there are some weak points -- how would you change that thing. I think putting the best tracks in that 10-race chase would make a big difference -- start the chase in las vegas for example, maybe on a sunday night....
but don't give up on it all just yet; we here at mikemulhern.net are working tirelessly to improve things for you.....(big grin)....

I "Had" been a Fan of the

I "Had" been a Fan of the sport for 20 plus years, but not anymore! Why? Because nascar got greedy and the average joe who does not have cable TV, cannot see it anymore.I was watching it at friends homes, but decided I did not want to be a mootch anymore! So, I'm all over it now, and hope they go under with their greedy desision to do this!

submitted by Cyclone Nice

submitted by Cyclone
Nice site and I wish I had found it sooner. I am 77 years old and was a fairly well known driver on the East Coast with S.C.O.D.A. (Sports Car Owner And Driver Association) and various outlaw motorcycle racing organizations. My last days racing were for Yamaha as a member of California's East Bay Road Racing Team. I have been an avid NASCAR fan as far back as I can remember and never had very many things to gripe about but that has changed in the last couple of years.

We are doing some digging on SCODA history and would like to hear from Cyclone.......or anyone else for that matter.

Doretti dot com

Good. Maybe when NASCAR loses

Good. Maybe when NASCAR loses all of it's fans and goes bankrupt, maybe Mike Helton will finally realize he's been on the wrong path and resign.

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