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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Nov. 28, 2016
Volume X, Edition CCXII
And Then, There Were None
Professor of Speed
by Mark Howell
As the smoke clears from a busy weekend of wrecks, celebratory burnouts, and the departure of Tony Stewart, it's hard to imagine that we're facing two months without NASCAR competition. While we mere mortals prepare for the holiday season, those in-and-around NASCAR will be wrapping up the business of 2016 and getting ready for the onslaught of the 2017 schedule.
Let's just hope the Sponsor-to-be-named-at-a-later
For all the excitement surrounding Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead, it's still curious that Brian France has yet to confirm a title sponsor for the top touring division. His Sunday morning press conference simply added to the tenor of the 2016 season. Regarding the new-and-future Cup sponsor? No comment yet. Regarding his endorsement of President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign last February? No comment. Regarding France's endorsement and the fact that the 2016 XFINITY champion is a NASCAR "Drive for Diversity" program graduate who's also a citizen of Mexico? No comment.
What was the title of that classic Keith Whitley song? "You say it best when you say nothing at all"?
I guess, even when you're the Chief Executive Officer of the largest motorsports sanctioning body in the United States….
And yet, there's unsettled business to address before we close the books on the 2016 season. The issue was mentioned during Sunday's presser, but it seems to be of even greater concern than which level Brian pulled on Election Day.
Who's picking up the cost of next year's top touring series in NASCAR?
The news out of Daytona Beach since summer has been "We'll be announcing the outcome soon", but here it is post-postseason and we're amidst radio silence. I know that race teams will continue to build and prep cars for Speedweeks in February, but there appears to be one component that'll be missing from their stables of machinery.
That's the decal applied to the top of the fender right in front of the A-pillars….
One piece of information we've been hearing since summer is the notion that the cash pile from which teams get paid will likely be smaller than usual. Less pay for the same amount of effort isn't good for business, especially when the writing on the wall heralding the departure of Sprint has been both bright AND flashing all year.
It was interesting to me that Brian France spoke of how NASCAR's overall health was good, all while Sunday's broadcast of the Cup finale at Homestead experienced a decline of 25 percent in viewership. All this as Jimmie Johnson sat poised on the brink of racing history. And the problem this season wasn't limited to Homestead; despite two photo finishes at the beginning of the year, an exciting crop of rookies with bags of talent, and Chase races that went down to overtime laps and stunning outcomes, the then-Sprint Cup Series suffered TV ratings that dipped anywhere from five to twenty-seven percent.
If this is considered "healthy", I'm pretty sure I don't want an appointment with Brian France's physician.
For all the positives to come from the 2016 NASCAR season, from new winners to new champions, there's still the fear of what may (or may not) be to come, and that's the new "sugar daddy" who fills the spot left by Sprint's departure as a title sponsor. Maybe all those rumors of decreased event attendance and sagging television ratings are finally getting through to Corporate America?
Sadly, they don't seem to be getting through to NASCAR administration. If the idea is to wait until next season, here's an update…. It's already here.
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