Dale Earnhardt Jr talks with Jeff Gordon Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR Ratings Drop - Reason Found?


Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

While watching the race yesterday I did a lot of thinking as to why ratings and attendance for this fantastic sport have dropped in recent times.  While there are a multitude of factors I thought of including all the usual ones, I settled on what I felt was the most responsible.  I will get to that in a minute.

We have all heard of the reasons:  The Jimmie Johnson factor, the Car of Tomorrow, the Generation 6 car, “aero-push”, races that are too long and strung out, too many 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks, “vanilla” drivers, predetermined outcomes of races, poor economy, and finally television coverage that is poor.  These are but a few of a never ending laundry list from the typical fan as to why they have lost interest.  While all valid reasons, I do not subscribe to the majority of this thinking.  I think the biggest sole factor in the decline is due to the similar decline in win totals for Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon.

“Your sport is as good as your stars play” is a phrase heard quite often.  For as many of you who hate the New York Yankees, baseball is better when they are winning.  The same can be said for the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics in the NBA, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers in the NFL.  While Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon have been competitive most of the time since 2005, their win totals are almost non-existent.  Earnhardt Jr. has exactly five wins from 2005 to today while Gordon has sixteen.  To break it down further, combined they have been in victory lane in five percent of the 340 races run since 2005.  That’s a staggeringly low number.

Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon have the biggest fan bases of anyone else.  While there is no statistic available, I would bet that Earnhardt Jr’s fan base is bigger than all the other’s combined.  When your two biggest fan bases feel their driver does not have a realistic chance of taking the checkered flag on a perennial basis, said fans tune out and watch from a distance.  They may just check the results online, watch a few snippets of the race to see where their driver is or have been lost forever.  Whatever they have done it is markedly noticed with empty seats all around the NASCAR circuit.

For the betterment of NASCAR as a whole it needs the 88 and 24 to win more.

Michael Eliadis is a contributor at beyondtheflag.com on the FanSided network. Follow us on Twitter at: @Beyond_The Flag and “Like” us on Facebook

Tags: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson Most Popular Driver NASCAR

  • Ric the Magnificent

    I partly disagree. I think the sport has lost the fan base because most of its stars are California drivers. If more Southern drivers were winning, the fan base would follow. It’s a Southern sport after all

  • leroy beck

    um…so by your very own logic, ratings should be up this year. Jr has two wins, Gordon has a win, and they are at and near the top of the points. Along with Kevin Harvick they have dominated the season. So….explain to me how exactly ratings are down because of Gordon and Jr?

  • Austin Hunter

    Why is this even a story?? The 88 and 24 have a combined 3 wins this year, one of them being the Daytona 500 for Earnhardt, and both of the drivers mentioned are contenders in every single race…….. Reading this story was a waste of 5 minutes that I’ll never get back…..

  • Debbie Upshaw

    You have got to be kidding. The races are boring. We heard a week before Daytona who was going to be on the pole and who was going to win. If you are not a Hendrick fan there is no need to watch. If it is not a Hendrick driver in victory lane, it will still be a Hendrick engine most races. That leaves a lot of fans out.

  • Patricia Anne Campobasso Snide

    wow reading these comments makes me laugh….they all have to be Jr fans, Smoke fans or Kyle Busch fans because those are the ones who whine the loudest…I agree with you Christopher…I can guarantee if Jr or Jeff were winning MORE than 1 or 2 races a year, the seats would be jammed packed…but since they aren’t, along with the price of a ticket, the seats are empty…I go to Homestead every year, and have since 2000, and it is always JAMMED…now I realize it IS the last race of the year, and the Championship but if these people were TRUE NASCAR fans, they wouldn’t allow anyone or anything to keep them from their local tracks, races…Being true to form, you will NEVER convince a Jr fan that they are wrong so why bother…LOL good article Christopher…:)

  • Mike Lawrence

    I disagree. It’s coverage and cost. The TV coverage is beyond awful. There is no other sport that misses any live “green flag” in nascar action. Can you imagine being away for a commericial and missing a grand slam in baseball, a touchdown in football, or a goal in soccer. Yet Nascar coverage routinely misses lead changes, accidents, and pit stops. If you look at commericial breakdown on cawsandjaws the races are mostly 3 min on and off 2 for commericial.

    Then there’s cost for attendance. Beyond stuff that’s outside of nascar control like gas, camper and truck prices, and hotel rooms. Track prices are high. Some have gone up even over recession. Parking can be 20-30 dollars at some tracks for satellite parking and food (like All venues) is high but I think they can sell a hot dog for less than $4 and not go bankrupt.

    There are a couple of billionaires and an awful lot of multi multi millionaires running the business. I think some breaks can be made for fans without bankrupting the France and Smith families.

  • Kevi Nmaiden

    Everybody is trying to figure out why this is happening; first we need to ask the EX- NASCAR fans why they left the sport.
    One thing is for sure since Brain France has taken over the sport it is dying a slow death especially in the South. I think he has done irreversible damage and NASCAR may never get the old fans to come back.