Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Vegas Ratings Get a Tune Up

We’ve heard the refrain many times over.

NASCAR doesn’t draw a TV audience like it used to. It’s tough to dispute that and even if it wasn’t, an attempt to dispute would be a fruitless endeavor. After all, the mere mention of a decrease in ratings and the doomsday predictors climb up on their pulpits, ready to rant. But it might not be all gloom and doom for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series saw a nearly 15% uptick in TV viewers over last year’s event. Both were run at the same time on the same night of the week. Neither was adversely affected by weather. Quite possibly most significant of all, Kyle Busch raced in both. So it’s as fair of a comparison as one could have.

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Yet more interesting was a 41% spike in viewership among the 18-49 demographic, long considered the most difficult group for NASCAR to capture the attention of.

It’s also the most sought after for the sanctioning body, as making lifers out of fans in their 20s and 30s will be a key to the future of the sport. And with a new television deal on the horizon, there’s plenty to like about the stack of bargaining chips NASCAR has to work with.

So where does the truck level fit into all this? Obviously Cup is the big draw but there’s something unique about the truck series. A pickup truck is the essence of the blue collar lifestyle that many NASCAR fans have long been associated with. The adoration that many Americans have for their personal truck transcends generations, which is exactly what NASCAR is trying to do.

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The trucks might be the best gateway for new fans. Perhaps it might be a good idea for NASCAR leaders to hitch their wagon to a field of trucks. They’re clearly capable of pulling it.

Truckin Tidbits

Jake Garcia finished 10th in the Bill McAnally No. 35 last Friday night. The 18-year-old was making just his sixth start in the truck, ending up no higher than 16th in his first five races last season. Garcia raced for the same team that Chase Elliott moonlighted for at Daytona International Speedway in the season opener. He also wound up in the same position that Elliott finished in (10th).

Busch has won a Cup race in 19 consecutive years, but you may not know that isn’t the only such record he holds. His win at Las Vegas gave him 11-straight seasons with at least one truck victory. That too is the all-time series record.

About the author


Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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