Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: New Viewership, Start-And-Park, and Public Perceptions

Well, we’re headed to Las Vegas, and it’s the first time in a while that I can remember anyone placing a special importance on this race. However, with the new Gen-6 car and Las Vegas Motor Speedway being one of the many mile-and-a-half racetracks on the schedule, this weekend may finally give us a true assessment of what to expect from the Gen 6 car for the rest of the season. However, with an underwhelming performance at Daytona and a so-so grade at Phoenix, expectations are cautiously optimistic heading into Sin City.

However, I can’t help but think that no matter what, it will be impossible for the race to receive “good” reviews. After all, regardless of how well the car races, this race is still 400 miles. I don’t care if passing is flawless and perfectly executed. You just won’t see passing and three-wide racing from green flag to checkered flag because most of the drivers know the value of the phrase, “to finish first, you must first finish.”

Do I really think anyone reading this feels like it will be a thriller of the race all the way through? No, but I do think there are some who will find any reason to be critical. Let’s let this car run its course before we give it a failing grade.

Now, on to your questions…

*So is SPEED Channel just going to be a separate entity or die?? FOX Sports 1 will carry the races and what else is intended here for this new channel??* _Arthur_

To put it simply, Fox Sports 1 is going to be the new name of SPEED. It will look much different than what most of us have come to know of SPEED throughout the years.

Honestly, I think the new name makes it pretty obvious that it’s going to be a broad-based sports network rather than focused specifically on motorsports and other car related programming. In other words, it’s an alternative to ESPN. The various sporting events it is scheduled to cover are NCAA College Football and Basketball, UEFA Soccer, UFC, and of course, NASCAR.

<div style=\"float:right; width:240px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15506.jpg\" width=\"240\" height=\"139\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">FOX Sports 1 will replace SPEED as the channel that will carry what was the staple of NASCAR programing, as well as UEFA Soccer and UFC. If there is any justice in this world, though it will not carry Unique Whips or Pass Time…</p></div>

NASCAR fans won’t really be missing much though when it comes to NASCAR coverage. FOX Sports 1 will still carry the Camping World Truck Series races, the All-Star Race, SpeedWeeks, Daytona 500 qualifying, the Budweiser Duels, as well aspractice, and qualifying sessions. Additionally, shows like _Race Hub_, _RaceDay_, and _NASCAR Victory Lane_ are also going to stay with this network though Race Hub will be moved from evening to midday.

In fact, the only area that I see where fans will lose coverage is in regards to other motorsports. The announcement really only mentions NASCAR, which means that shows like _SPEED Center_ and _Wind Tunnel_ are likely, and sadly, going to go by the wayside. Though there will be 24/7 sports coverage on the network, as well as original programming like talk shows and special documentaries, I think the coverage of other motorsports is where SPEED Channel has proven itself to be unique to viewers who are looking for just that. I’m afraid other racing series will get buried if they are washed out of the programming lineup on SPEED.

That could be an overreaction, though. After all, series like ARCA and the Rolex Series have renewed their contracts with SPEED and that should still carry through with the rebranding. However, I hope FOX Sports 1 still offers SPEED viewers what they’ve always known the network to be about: racing.

*“Why doesn’t NASCAR do something about these start-and-park teams? It’s making the sport a joke! I think they need to go back to the old days of starting 36 on short tracks and the fastest 40 on a mile and over. My suggestion to stop the stat-and-parkers is to cut the race money if they don’t make a legitimate attempt to race and if they do retire give them an inspection of the car. If there is no issue, they lose half of their money.”* _Jamie_

Jamie, that’s hardly fair. After all, most of the drivers and the teams as a whole don’t genuinely _want_ to start and park. If they want to race at all, that’s the only way they can afford to. Should they simply just decide to give up their dream because they don’t have the deep pockets or multi-million dollar sponsorships that the other teams have? Again, that’s not fair.

<div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/14913.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"183\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Some fans want to stop the start and parkers from entering the field since they aren't \"really trying.\" Contractual obligations and a free market economy dictate that they will remain.</p></div>

If start and park teams really bother you that much, there isn’t much NASCAR can do beyond controlling the money the other teams can spend which I’m totally against. Money drives this sport more so than any other, and any “dreamers” wanting to get in the sport can’t just go to a scouting location and prove their worth. Basically, the start and park teams are doing the best they can with what they have and hoping beyond all hope that someone will give them an opportunity to shine.

Honestly, though, what are they really hurting? Almost no one notices them, and the only people who do are the ones looking for something to complain about. If those teams weren’t there, the field would be much shorter and NASCAR would be cursed out for that too.

Simply put, unless you’re funding that team, leave them alone. They’re just doing what they can.

*Why is NASCAR trying to profit off of negative press? At least that seems like what they are doing, to attempt to reel in fans, not the right way to do it.* _Matt_

Matt, the negative press I think you are referring to are the stories that came from the Nationwide Series crash at Daytona and the NRA sponsorship of Texas Motor Speedway. One was negative because of sympathy, the other because of (ugh) politics. The rest of my answer will depend on this assumption, though I can’t think of any other topics that would be described as “negative” by mainstream consumers.

First off, I’m not sure I understand your use of the word “profit”. It’s not like they’re selling merchandise that say “get well, fans” for Daytona or guns emblazoned with the NASCAR logo. Are they trying to use this new-found mainstream attention to get more butts both on the couch and in the grandstands?

Um … yeah. Why shouldn’t they?

Listen, for the first time in years, NASCAR has been in the mainstream media for weeks. They’ve been discussed on talk shows, newsroom panels, and stirred up debates amongst people who would otherwise never pay attention. That’s better publicity than another public relations firm could ever muster up. In other words, it’s relevant.

Honestly, the only story that has received mainstream coverage that I would describe as “negative” was the Daytona crash. But what was NASCAR to do? Say, “Don’t watch our sport, because bad things happen.” No, they should say, “Yes this was scary and we wish it had never happened. What you missed was the racing before it, which was great! You should tune in!”

<div style=\"float:right; width:250px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15440.jpg\" width=\"250\" height=\"302\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Profiting off the misery of others? NASCAR has been in the news for two straight weeks not by their own design, but more so the morbid fascination of the media at large.</p></div>

I wouldn’t call the NRA story “negative” just because it’s controversial. The only place it’s being portrayed as negative are left-leaning “news” websites which skews stories to fit its own agenda anyway. Even if the name “NRA 500” furthers a stereotype, the people who are laughing about that are never _ever_ going to watch anyway. If NASCAR is “profiting” from it, it’s from people who are already watching or just don’t care.

NASCAR is doing the right thing by trying to generate more viewers for the sport that was brought on by all the attention. They’d be stupid not to, and I hope it works.

*Connect with Summer!*
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About the author

Promoted to editor in 2013, Summer is one of Frontstretch’s fast-rising young talents. While contributing to social media efforts, she also writes the weekly "Up To Speed" column. A Kansas native, Summer graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2015. She also contributes to other media outlets such as Kickin' The Tires.

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