USA Today Sports
The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season has been filled with a lot of positives. Some of those positives include good racing, great finishes, knock out qualifying, seven different winners in the first seven races and some compelling off of the track storylines. Despite the positives NASCAR’s ratings are down this season. In fact, NASCAR has seen its ratings steadily decrease the past few seasons. Some of the ratings this season on FOX have been the lowest that the sport has seen in over a decade. The loss in ratings has many fans pointing the finger at various different things but not many are calling for a solution. Well one man believes that he has found a solution, or at least the one driver that could be the solution.
According to a recent study performed by Andrew Maness of Racingnomics.com as reported by Business Week, the one driver who can save NASCAR is none other than Carl Edwards. My guess is that most of you reading this were expecting another drivers name. According to Business Week this is how his study worked.
"Maness tracked a series of performance variables across all the top active drivers going back to 1995. After accounting for other factors that might influence television ratings (a race’s start time, TV competition on race day), he correlated the success of individual drivers to audience size to determine which drivers have had an impact on bringing in the marginal fans. One driver clearly emerges from the data: Carl Edwards.Edwards is the only driver in the study who improved audience size in a significant manner. His week-to-week success increases television ratings by 3.6 percent. No other driver’s success carries a positive relationship across all five models (measuring different components around winning races, leading many laps, overall points standings, etc.). … Edwards is the only driver with a statistical confidence interval above zero."
The results of the study are clear, Edwards is the only driver in the sport that directly impacts the ratings based on how well he is doing, period.
Drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch have a “negligible impact on TV ratings” based on their success. Conversely, the only drivers in the study that were found to have a negative impact on the ratings when successful were Denny Hamlin and six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.
So if you are to believe this study, Edwards is the key to saving NASCAR’s declining ratings. What makes all of this even more interesting is the fact that Edwards currently does not have a contract for next season. Edwards currently drives the No. 99 machine for RFR and as of the time of this publishing there is no news in regards to them offering him a contract for 2015. If Edwards were to become a free agent so to speak one would have to imagine that NASCAR would want him to join another high profile team.
Whether you buy into the study or not it’s hard to argue the numbers. At the end of the day Edwards being successful on the track not only gives the ratings a jolt, but it drastically increases the average rating. Could there be another explanation as to why that is? I am sure that you could argue other reasons or you could also accept that Edwards is a bigger star and draw in NASCAR than anyone gives him credit for.