While the cars ate away the laps at Phoenix, we were all nodding off between brake and tire failures, in other words a fairly typical day at the track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Once it became obvious that whoever got out front was going to be the toast of the segment, it was time to look around for what else there might be to do around the house.
I suppose if die-hard NASCAR fans at home can’t stand to watch their favorite cars take 300 laps around one of the few remaining one-miler tracks on the circuit, it shouldn’t surprise us when further indications about the decline of our sport come to light.
This week Charlotte Motor Speedway announced that they would be re-purposing some seating areas, removing both grandstands and suites in the interest of offering more viewing options. Meanwhile, as soon as Kyle Busch was hauled off pit road at Las Vegas, it was reported by some season ticket holders that they could not renew their Section 1 and Section 3 seats, as the track is considering what they will be doing with those underperforming areas. Which can be perceived as a curious stance to take when LVMS just landed a second race date for 2018–wouldn’t you think that they ought to be bursting at the seams in March if they think they could sell even more tickets in September?
In another notable comment, it was announced that the XFINITY Series will be using restrictor plates at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this year. An unconfirmed report by an official associated with NASCAR said if the XFINITY race was a success at Indy, we could expect to see the plate package introduced to the Cup series in 2018 with a potential expansion to include Pocono and Michigan as well.
Yep, this is when my brain starts to hurt. It’s clear with the wholesale tossing of the bathwater this year by rejigging the points and racing structure that NASCAR is in official full-on panic mode. When you see that they are looking at more ways to manufacture an exciting exhibition by adding the hated restrictor plates at other two-mile plus facilities that the number crunchers have delivered their research and stats are in.
While the entire racing community cringes every time we visit Daytona and Talladega, the television ratings see a significant spike as the plate racing encourages tight pack racing capable of destroying the economy of a small nation in about five seconds. Meanwhile at the actual race tracks, selling a four-pack of $50 tickets to a hard working blue collar family is being pushed to the side in favor of creating ways to collect another cool grand from the one percenters who pull into the RV park in rigs that are nearly as fancy as the ones in the drivers’ lot.
It’s clear that the sanctioning body has truly abandoned attending the race tracks to experience the product they are selling and have handed the reins over to a bunch of bean counters who are married to marketing execs.
It’s gone, folks. The wrench wielding foundation of stock car racing has been neatly buried beneath new lights, trackside reserved pay parking lots and lobster bisque being delivered to your air conditioned suite. Sooner or later we won’t be watching actual cars on the track, but will gather around to watch a killer iRacing tournament. Nobody will break a sweat behind the wheel or in the stands. Most of all, nobody will actually care.
For those of us who do give a damn, April is nearly here! That means that short tracks in the northern climes will be firing up the excitement with some Spring Sizzlers and IceBreakers. Thank goodness there’s somewhere still left where we can see and smell the grease. Carry on, America, with or without NASCAR.
Did you notice that the return of the Young Guns is here? The current Top 6 in driver standings are Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney. Four of those six are under the age of 26. Anybody want to take odds on a new Champion at the end of the year?
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