Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Current State Of NASCAR


As the new year kicks off, NASCAR as a sport is in the middle of a bumpy transition. While it strives to gain and recapture it’s popularity that made the sport a household name in the 80’s and 90’s, it had struggled with numerous issues in the process. Here’s what NASCAR enters the new year with and current takes on the situations.

New Sponsor, New Identity: Perhaps the biggest change in the offseason is not only Monster Energy becoming the title sponsor of NASCAR’s top tier series, but the sanctioning body in general revealing a refreshed logo. The moves were not only made to usher in a new era, but to grab a younger audience thanks to Monster’s unorthodox marketing culture that has worked in other places around the world in sports. I’m a firm believer in Monster being able to grown the younger demographic, but it will take more than branding and sponsor activation to do that. Which leads into the next two topics.

Gen 6 Car Issues: NASCAR enters 2017 on a up and down Gen 6 car that has seen very few good races (most under last year’s package). The Gen 6 showed improvement last year when it came to quality of racing, but still struggles with that same issue on the track in general and passing at mile and a half and above tracks. Although NASCAR has made strides to improve it, there’s still plenty of work to do to make the field competitive. NASCAR will have to continue to fine tune the package and it won’t be something they find overnight. It may take years for NASCAR to figure it out and that could damper some possible growth.

Where’s The Personalities?: Another issue that has caused NASCAR’s decline has been the lack of driver identity. While the sport will never see a “Wonder Boy” like Jeff Gordon or “The Intimidator” like Dale Earnhardt, the sport should capitalize on the few drivers with personalities like Kurt and Kyle Busch (Outlaw and Rowdy are their respective nicknames), “Happy” Kevin Harvick, and create new ones like with outspoken/popular drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Chase Elliott. Also, reintroducing the “Boys Have At It” (on a lighter scale albeit) rule could bring in rivalries the sport has missed since abandoning it after 2012.

Youth Movement: The last few years has seen NASCAR increase it’s commitment on finding drivers for the current or even next generation. Names like Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, and Erik Jones has so far given NASCAR a steady platform in not only marketing, but in general replacing current names retiring. The trend should continue in the next few years with Ty Dillon, Cole Custer, William Byron, and Noah Gragson all making steady climbs to the top. But, it’s up to not only NASCAR, but the younger drivers themselves to keep the youth movement moving. NASCAR will need to keep taking advantage of it’s successful “Names Are Made Here” campaign  for the XFINITY Series and perhaps branch it out in general. The drivers need to make themselves known not only on the track, but with their personalities to inspire the future as a whole.

The State Of NASCAR Is: Safe, but nevertheless shaky. The sport currently has a good thing with Monster in not only trying to grab a younger audience, but marketing itself as a sport. It’s younger drivers are replacing the old guard and have done so very well. But, there’s also plenty for NASCAR to do to keep it’s commitment to retaining and even growing the sport. The Gen 6 car will need several rule/spec overhauls and trial & error to improve the quality of racing. Phantom and “staged” debris cautions need to go, as racing shouldn’t line up with Pro Wrestling in any way and only legit debris and incidents should instigate yellows. Finally, the sport needs to plant and grow new personalities to keep viewers entertained. Bottom line is NASCAR has made the right steps the past three offseasons to stabilize the sport’s decline to an extent and figuring out new ways to grow again. But, plenty of work needs to be done to continue the trend and NASCAR needs a great 2017 to ensure that.