It’s halfway through the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season and it’s a good time to reflect on what fans have seen so far. By most accounts, what they saw was an overwhelming success. The numbers prove it.
So for all those fans who, for one reason or another, are claiming they’ve stopped watching NASCAR — and you know who you are — here’s what you’ve been missing.
NASCAR has seen next-generation cars delivered on multiple levels
The next generation car has been talked about for years. It made its Clash at the Coliseum debut and delivered, with Joey Logano holding off Kyle Busch for the win. This race foretold what was to come.
There was a lot of beating and banging over the short distance. The carbon fiber composite bodies held up. But that was at much lower speeds and significantly less impact.
Fast forward to the season opener at Daytona when Bubba Wallace fired a hard shot to the front right of his car with six laps to go, held it straight and, more impressively, didn’t lose momentum due to the car’s durability. He managed to finish second just meters behind Austin Cindric.
This end was just the beginning. Week after week, the races went into the final laps. Late drama has made for some thrilling finishes at Atlanta, Circuit of the Americas, Bristol Dirt, Kansas and most recently at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600.
Fox used the slogan to describe the 2021 season as the “best season ever”. You were a year early.
NASCAR fans showing up in grandstands and watching on TV
Racing in the new car was phenomenal overall (many overtakes and lead changes) and the excitement of the fans who turned up in the stands and watched on TV or a device pulled it off.
Every weekend the stalls appeared completely overcrowded or very close. The Clash had about 50,000 viewers in the stands, including about 65% newcomers. The Daytona 500 had a sell out of 101,000 fans. Phoenix sold out its spring race for the first time in a decade.
With 57,000 grandstand seats, 1,200 campsites and a few dozen suites, this weekend’s first cup race at the World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway is completely sold out.
And fans not only show up in person, but also tune in to the coverage. According to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, NASCAR averages 4.59 million viewers for this year’s Fox broadcast races (excluding @FS1), or a 10% increase from last year.
Come back and enjoy the new and improved show
While the sport is undeniably headed in the right direction, there is still a very vocal group of fans who take every opportunity to let others know why they stopped watching NASCAR years ago and that the sport is dead.
However, the numbers tell a very different story.
For those fans who feel that NASCAR isn’t what it used to be, that’s absolutely true. Neither does the NFL. Or the NBA. Or MLB. All sports, including NASCAR, are constantly evolving with new rules, new equipment and new faces.
The difference between NASCAR fans and stock and ball fans is that the latter appreciate their yesterday’s heroes like Joe Montana, Michael Jordan or Nolan Ryan, but they have accepted that these athletes are no longer there. They embrace the new stars. And they don’t complain about new equipment and different rules designed to make the sport better and safer.
NASCAR audiences are growing, whether those fans ride or not. You might as well join the growing number and enjoy fun racing action that will help create new memories of a sport they have loved for years.
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