We have seen the bulk of the races come and go to date and objectively one has to ascertain that this has been a successful regular season for NASCAR and its rule changes. I think it will only get better once the Chase for the cup starts after the race at Richmond in a couple of weeks.
The Generation 6 car has produced some great racing on all tracks. We have seen more teams be more competitive more often with two drivers from smaller teams winning (AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola) and qualifying for the Chase. That leads us to the new championship format that all but ensures race winners in the first 26 races a spot in the Chase. Placing the emphasis on winning for punching your ticket, instead of cruising around in the top 15 all year and making it has made the racing better. What the knockout format holds in a couple weeks we will see but it seems to be set up for some interest amongst NASCAR enthusiasts.
The new knockout qualifying format seems to have gained traction and has made it more interesting for drivers and fans alike. I like it better than the “one and done” qualifying attempts previously used. It provides some intrigue and excitement to the fans watching that is for sure.
The successful seasons of Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr seems to have reignited not only the drivers, but their enormous fan bases as well. As I have pointed out in a previous article, NASCAR is a better sport when its stars are competitive week in, week out. Add three wins for each of them and you have euphoria in their camps. I have to think that the cars suit their driving style for their success. Both Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. did a lot of winning when the cars looked similar to the ones they drive currently. The spoiler instead of the wing creating downforce I think has had a huge impact. The improvement of “aero-push” I believe is a huge factor as well.
If the Chase started today nine different teams would be represented. They gain personal and sponsor exposure, notoriety, more money and most of the belief from all of these teams that they can win the championships if the cards fall their way.
Monitoring NASCAR related social media and track “buzz” it feels like people have started to come back to NASCAR. I am in no way trying to paint the situation as rosy
, but there seems to be an uptick in interest brewing. NASCAR needs to capitalize on this and keep the ball rolling to draw some of the fans back to the sport that they have lost in the last ten years.