NASCAR Fans Need To Figure Out What They Really Want

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s something that you have most likely heard a few times in your life and in NASCAR it also holds true. At the end of the day, it’s impossible to please everyone and that’s just the way life goes. Some NASCAR fans might be taking it too far though.

I hate painting a broad stroke across any particular group of people but when it comes to NASCAR fans the shoe seems to fit. While not all NASCAR fans feel this way, consistent monitoring of social media and article comments lends me to believe that the majority do.

NASCAR fans in general are not happy with the current state of the sport. That unhappiness ranges from a variety of things but generally speaking it has had to do with the on-track product, numerous rule changes, the Chase format and Jimmie Johnson winning six titles in eight seasons.

Between NASCAR’s peak in the late 90’s and their current status today, NASCAR has given fans plenty of reasons to be unhappy with them. However there comes a point in time where things change and people have to begin to let things go.

NASCAR is currently at that point and it’s now time for fans to figure their business out.

When Matt Kenseth won a championship with consistency and not wins (he only had one that season), NASCAR fans were up in arms about how ridiculous it would have been to have a winless-champion. NASCAR responded with the NASCAR Chase and while it wasn’t perfect, it addressed the concerns of fans and the governing body. Flash forward to Jimmie Johnson and his six title, the fans cried out once again and that resulted in the newest version of the NASCAR Chase.

NASCAR has a system in place where four drivers will be in championship contention every single season during the last race in Miami. If not for this, Kyle Busch would not have won a championship in 2015. If not for this, Jeff Gordon would not have had a chance at a fifth title in 2015, Ryan Newman would not have finished one spot away from a title in 2014 and Tony Stewart would not have a chance at a fourth title this season.

Fans of these drivers (and others) will still bash NASCAR despite the fact that they put into play a system that is giving their drivers a better chance to succeed. Had this system gone into effect when the Chase was first introduced, drivers like Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. would all have titles and Jeff Gordon would have a fifth title (see the link below).

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In seasons before fans complained about the on-track action and the lack of passing, NASCAR responded with a new low-downforce package and the results have been amazing. The on-track action in 2016 is head and shoulders above where it has been over the last decade in NASCAR. Have their been bumps along the way? Sure, but shouldn’t the end result be what matters the most here?

All of this brings us to Charlotte Motor Speedway over the last two race weekends. Heading into the Sprint All-Star Race fans came up with the usual dialogue about how the race is boring and nobody cares about it. So what does NASCAR do? They try to tweak the format to make it better for all involved. Sure, there was a hiccup in there but the point is NASCAR is trying.

Heading into the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night fans came with the same talk about how long the race is and how boring it is to watch. On Sunday night Martin Truex Jr. put together an historic performance on his way to his first win of the 2016 season. Sunday night was not only dominant by Truex but it was also filled with history and excitement as you watched wondering if and when it was going to fall apart for him. Throw into the mix the season that he has had, the back-story with his girlfriend and the emotion of victory lane and the result was one of the best moments in recent NASCAR history.

Despite all of that, Monday was overrun with comments about how the race sucked, it was boring, the same drivers always win (keep in mind it was his first win of the season and fourth of his career), the race was too long. It’s also fair to point out that this year’s Coca-Cola 600 was one of the fastest in the history of the event. Moreover, had Earnhardt Jr. (or your favorite driver) won Sunday, the perception of it being too long, boring, uneventful or anything else would be out the window. Instead, it would be an amazing performance by an amazing driver, which is what it was by the way.

The bottom line here is that some NASCAR fans will never be happy and it’s those fans that need to figure out their business or move on. NASCAR today is never going to be the way that it was back in the 70’s or 80’s and if that’s what you’re waiting for you need to do us all a favor and step to the side. The Chase is never going to go away, the governing body is going to continuously tweak rules to make the product safer and better and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Through 13 races in 2016, NASCAR has done far more good for the sport, drivers and fans than they have bad. NASCAR is better now than it was 10 years ago and hopefully it will be better 10 years from now than it is today. It has been a long road but change has finally turned into progress in NASCAR and fans need to realize that and hop aboard the proverbial train.

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NASCAR has a long way to go if they want to get back to the kind of success that they were having two decades ago but the foundation has finally been laid. The product is better, the excitement is there and thanks to drivers like Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano, the future of the sport is in place as well. The only thing NASCAR needs now is the support from their fans and for that to happen the fans need to get their act together and embrace where NASCAR is today.