What will a sixth JJ Championship do for...or TO NASCAR?
My question is "What will this do for, or to NASCAR?"
Many would argue that a sixth championship will bring fans in. The fans who want to see if JJ can tie Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty's seven championships will tune in to watch how the season progresses. Other fans will tune in to see who can push him off the pedestal and thwart his efforts.
Then there are those fans who just might say 'screw this' and not tune in at all.
The sport has become both wishy washy and too stringent, if you will. Oh yes, they said "boys, have at it" and they do, to a certain extent, but sometimes it all seems a little contrived. Then you have the very severe penalties handed down to teams who "cheated". We all know Chad Knaus didn't get the name "Cheating Chad" by accident, yet the uproar over a Michael Waltrip Racing Crew Chief giving team orders was out of control. Team orders are something we have seen for decades. Cheating is something that has been around even longer. Teams call it looking for a grey area, but face it, it's still cheating.
And Chad Knaus has been the king in that category.
Even now, rumors abound that the 5, 24 and 88 teams are being ignored to give the 48 team what they need to win the Championship. Fans, especially Dale Jr. fans, don't like this one bit.
Often, when a favorite driver moves to a new team, a fan will become a fan of the entire team. More and more this is not the case. Social media shows us that. We see support for a driver, but not necessarily the entire team. And honestly, there aren't that many JJ fans. Will a sixth Championship change that?
We will also not see Mark Martin nor Jeff Burton in the premiere series in 2014. Will their absence mean fewer fans, fewer viewers?
The television broadcasts are expected to change in 2015, but for 2014 we will still see FOX for a good portion of the races, and while I am a fan of Darrell Waltrip, more and more I am seeing the other side of the coin, and I'm tired of him being "pro-NASCAR" no matter what. Once upon a time he would say what he really thought. Now, all I read is DW supporting NASCAR regardless of the situation. TNT and ESPN are expected to continue the balance of the races, with a couple on ABC for good measure. For us Canadian fans, this isn't good news, as neither TNT nor ESPN are available in Canada, instead being re-broadcast by TSN, complete with annoying and repetitious commercials. Will the broadcasts mean fewer fans?
Like many, I am on a wait and see. I watch NASCAR in the spring, almost religiously, while FOX is broadcasting. Once it changes to TSN (for me) the attraction just isn't there. I don't like TNT. I don't mind ESPN as much as I used to, exclusively because of Dale Jarrett, who I respect to the ends of the earth. If I can catch up online as the race progresses, and watch without sound in the golf course clubhouse, I'm mostly satisfied.
The season is all but over, and NASCAR did not make any inroads to gaining fans this season, even with the new Gen6 car. They will make adjustments to the car for the 2014 season, and testing will commence almost as soon as the 2013 season ends. But will that gain more fans? Will you watch?