Chicago Was NASCAR’s Second Lowest Rated Race Since 2000, EVERYTHING IS FINE

SMW– NASCAR Cup Series racing from Chicagoland, the first race of the playoffs (nee Chase For the Cup), had a 1.4 rating and 2.3 million viewers on NBCSN Sunday — down 13% in ratings and 14% in viewership from last year (1.6, 2.7M) and down 26% and 28% respectively from 2015 (1.9, 3.2M).

Excluding rainouts, Martin Truex Jr.‘s win ranks as the lowest rated and least-watched Cup Series race at Chicagoland (dates back to 2001) and the lowest rated and least-watched playoff race at any track (dates back to 2004).

The 1.4 is also the second-lowest for any Cup Series race since at least 2000, ahead of only a 1.2 for Richmond the previous week.

Live look at the NASCAR offices:

Everything is fine, EVERYTHING IS FINE, says a disheveled and singed Steve O’Donnell as he wipes smut from his eyes. It’s fine.

Except things aren’t fine. NASCAR ratings are taking faster than the Exxon Valdez. There’s an Italian cruise ship that has a better chance of floating before NASCAR does again. You can use any cliche you want when you talk about what’s happening to NASCAR TV rankings right now, they all apply.

NASCAR fans care more about the ratings of the sport than any other fan base in the world. Mainly because of the NASCAR media corps focus on the ratings and because NASCAR fans are inherently insecure. Fans always feel a need to prove their favorite sport is the best.

How Does NASCAR Recover?

It’s a long road to recovery, pop that Eminem album in and get comfortable. NASCAR has hampered their ratings in part due to changes they’ve made and drivers retiring. For me I don’t put much weight in the driver retirement aspect of it, people like racing. They’ll find another driver to pull for. Most of the rating slump comes from NASCAR.

Constant changes to the sport have driven fans away. They’ve now changed the points/championship system no less than four times in the last 7 seasons. How do you expect fans to keep up with this? Year after year we’re all treated to articles and videos explaining how the new points system works. Imagine if the NFL changed their scoring every season, people would be beyond annoyed.

The on-track product for NASCAR is lacking too. The Car of Tomorrow was supposed to get rid of aero problems. Now we’re on to the Gen 6 body and things are still the same as before. Passing is impossible, the cars carry too much speed in the corners and the front end downforce is still entirely too high. Combine that with the old school NASCAR fan bases disgust for Toyota and you have people tuning out.

Better racing, better personalities, higher ratings. You can’t create personalities, you can’t anoint superstars, you have to let these things happen organically. All of these are things NASCAR has struggled with the last 5 years.

Make Changes

Chicagoland got a poor rating because it was a poor race. 1.5 mile tracks have done nothing for the sport outside of 3 or 4 good races in the last decade. Most have become single lane tracks with racecars glued to the track.

Bring back the valence, get air under these cars.

Bring back short tracks. NASCAR left short tracks when the sport boomed in the early to mid-2000s. The sport needs to go back to their roots before it can boom again. Short tracks provide the action that gets played on the highlight show and passed around the internet.

Allow drivers to become personalities. Don’t shove Chase Elliott down our throats. Don’t make everything a big rivalry. Make Kyle and Brad the bad guys because they want to be, not because you think they should be.

Stop changing the points system.

This was all free of charge. NASCAR shouldn’t listen to the fans and cave to Twitter pressure but some changes are pretty self-explanatory.

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