Will NASCAR Theatrics Bring Back Viewers?

 

Will NASCAR Theatrics Bring Back Viewers?

by Amy Lignor

 

For any of the millions who once watched ABC’s Wide World of Sports and heard the words “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” they remember the footage of a skier’s crash when it came to the “agony” side of things. Everyone knew that sight was a fact – a video that was absolutely real. Nowadays, however, it seems that more and more sports are staged agony, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, colorful drivers, Monster Energy, agony of defeat, over-aggressiveness, the perfect scene“making up” shots that appear on TV just for the purpose of gaining fans and increasing television ratings. Many sports have been accused of this over time, but as of late it is the world of NASCAR that has been brought up in headlines and conversations about what’s real and what’s actually a set-up.

We’re not talking about those horrible accidents that sometimes harm beloved drivers that fans have been routing for all their lives. Those are most definitely real and a true “agony” for everyone involved. We are talking about what many believe was a ‘staged scenario’ that occurred between NASCAR drivers Joey Logano and Kyle Busch that occurred following the Monster Energy Cup Series race, the Kobalt 400, held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 12th. NASCAR states that it will not penalize the drivers for this little bout. Everyone agrees, but some are left wondering if perhaps there was a reason to actually start a ‘battle’ between two drivers.

The race was more than exciting with Martin Truex Jr. passing the faltering car of Brad Keselowski on the white-flag lap. Truex then went on to sweep all three stages of the race. However, the excitement of Truex’s pass and eventual win was overshadowed more than a little bit when Joey Logano’s Ford slid up into Kyle Busch’s Toyota as they battled for third position. Spinning into the inside wall on the pit road, Busch ended up crossing the finish line to claim 22nd place while Logano managed fourth.

Viewers and fans watched as Busch headed up the pit road afterwards where he confronted Logano and threw a punch at Joey’s head. It was Logano’s crew that stepped in and took Busch down to the pavement in order to prevent the fight from escalating, which is where Kyle attained the bloody, bruised forehead that he came out with.

It is a fact that NASCAR grew into a national brand back in the 1970’s with massive mainstream appeal because of the drivers. Fans loved the big names and even bigger battles on the track. But over time, it was as if NASCAR became more corporate (like the NFL) and began to ‘tone down’ their more colorful drivers. It seemed that more and more drivers grew scared that they would fall out of favor with their national sponsors, which caused them to fall out of favor with their fans instead because fans grew, well…bored.

‘Stale’ was an adjective used a great deal when it came to NASCAR. Even having Monster Energy become the sponsor of the whole thing was a path NASCAR used to become cooler and bring back fans. No matter how you look at it, however, the one thing that wrestling proved was that fans come back and stay when the ‘agony of defeat’, the colorful ‘characters’, and the theatrical ‘brawls’ – whether real or set-up – are a part of the sport. So…would it be off the mark for NASCAR to do the same thing? Most say, no. NASCAR needs a little fire and building a driver duel would have more people tuning in to all the NASCAR races this year. This won’t be like hockey, of course; boxing on the ice is actually a part of the sport of hockey that’s been around a good, long time. But a few mean comments back and forth and a fight or two after the race is done would bring in more viewers to NASCAR who just want to see what the ‘aftermath’ of the race will be.

With NASCAR coming out and talking about the high emotion of the drivers that will ‘get the best of all of us at some point or another.’ Not to mention Busch stating that he was angered by what he thought was Logano’s over-aggressiveness, and Logano’s crew looking like mobsters protecting their squeaky-clean driver who stated he ‘did nothing wrong,’ sets the perfect scene.

People who do not normally watch NASCAR, or those who turned away a while ago because it had become far too calm for them to get excited about it anymore, will now have something to sink their teeth into. Frankly, if the fight was real, it will bring new viewers who want to see what will happen next. If it was a set-up, the same thing will happen. Why? Because people still want to see the ‘agony of defeat.’

 

Source:  GIG News

NASCAR Daytona 500: Predictions vs. Results

 
NASCAR Daytona 500: Predictions vs. Results

by Amy Lignor

 

There were a lot of questions coming into this NASCAR season that both viewers and drivers were talking about. Some of those questions received an answer during this Daytona 500. And some predictions that were made actually did come true.

Daytona 500, predictions, Jimmie Johnson, Monster Energy, Kyle Larson, Richard Childress

 

Many were wondering what impact Monster Energy, the new sponsor of the Cup series, would have on NASCAR. It has been twelve consistent years that the sport relied on sponsorship by the telecommunication companies out there before switching to this particular energy drink that has taken over the U.S. of A. The sport was looking at attendance, as well as TV ratings that were declining fast, so bringing in a “Monster” made absolute sense when it came to revving up the sport and marketing to that younger demographic out there. Has it changed the sport so far? Well…although ratings were up for yesterday’s Daytona 500, it looks like Monster Energy has work ahead in order to bring the younger viewers to TV sets across the country. Too bad Tom Brady and the Patriots aren’t the sponsor. Football is still the sport that has no problem nabbing those high ratings.

 

NASCAR is also looking at the topic of less downforce meaning better racing. This new aerodynamic package for the cars features lower downforce. Introduced in 2016, NASCAR went even further this season by reducing the downforce even more. Lower downforce means that more issues regarding performance is left in the hands of drivers instead of in the machine, itself. This is exactly what the drivers wanted and it looks as if it will bring them even more success in 2017.

 

Jimmie Johnson is another topic of discussion for the NASCAR season. After all, his 2016 championship brought him into a tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, setting him atop the all-time list with seven. Even at the age of 41, Johnson shows no signs of letting up, which means it will only take one more title win for him to sit atop the list all by himself. If this occurs, fans and the media will have to “see” Johnson as the best driver ever. Will that happen? Not a chance. Yes, he could win that one title; however, the names Petty and Earnhardt have followings that will never concede Johnson is better than either one of them.

 

Who will be the ‘name’ that comes out from behind the proverbial ‘curtain’ this season? Most state that Kyle Larson will be the one. This Chevy driver won his first race in 2016 and most experts are saying to look for Larson to win multiple times this season. Although for a time it looked like he would win the Daytona 500 yesterday, Larson, unfortunately, was “passed by.” But the season is just gearing up.

 

So…what about the rookies? Is there one that will surprise everybody out there? Experts right now are calling for Ty Dillon’s name to be in the headlines a great deal this season. Of course, with his brother being Cup driver Austin Dillon, and being the grandson of Richard Childress Racing owner Richard Childress, his bloodlines run long and deep.

 

As far as predictions for Daytona, some came true. There was a small bit of confusion when it came to the new rules that NASCAR instituted for 2017, such as cars coming in after 60 laps (the first stage of three stages). And cars not being able to come back on the track from the garage if they went in because of damage done from contact or a wreck.

 

It was also stated beforehand that there was no chance 2016 Daytona champion, Denny Hamlin, would win – only because it is very rare for a driver to go back-to-back. Only three have ever achieved it, including the great Richard Petty. And when it came right down to it, the prediction came true. Hamlin didn’t walk away with back-to-back Daytona wins. This time out it was Kurt Busch who took the win. Only leading in one lap throughout the entire race, Busch proved that all you need is one. After all, it was the final lap where he made the pass on Larson to take it all.

 

In the end, though, whether it was rule changes, a new sponsor, or drivers’ dealing with the improved downforce reduction, the one thing all predicted came absolutely true when the biggest cheer of the day was raised for Dale Earnhardt Jr. during driver introductions. Earnhardt was like the Knight of the Realm as he came back to do what he loves to do after missing 18 races last season with a concussion. People thought he would look nervous – what he did look like, however, was a man who had most definitely come home.

Source:  GIG News