from Bob Pokras
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
Successful experiment at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles and a relatively successful debut of the next generation car NASCAR are optimistic about the rest of 2022 and beyond.
NASCAR entered 2022 with hope, but with many unknowns, starting with the Clash exhibition on a temporary track built at the iconic stadium in LA. The car, with parts and parts now supplied mainly by suppliers instead of being manufactured by teams, needed several significant tweaks (air ducts in the windshields, increased power on many tracks) before being accepted by drivers as ready. for competition.
But after 16-point races and two shows this season, NASCAR executives can smile. Following the completion of the FOX / FS1 portion of the Cup season (FOX / FS1 has the top 18 events and NBC / USA has the last 20), viewership increased by 6% from last season, with an average of 3.696 million viewers watching during the competition. .
While NASCAR tracks are no longer owned by public companies and therefore do not publish audited financial results, the “eye test” and traffic on race days show higher traffic on several tracks than in the years before COVID-19.
NASA’s Ben Kennedy discusses the future of the sport
NASCAR Senior Vice President Ben Kennedy discusses the future of the sport and announces that Clash will return to the LA Memorial Coliseum in 2023.
Of course, there are still some problems: the wheels are getting out of cars at alarming speeds, NASCAR’s racing safety and control operations are in question (as they usually do), and NASCAR continues to struggle with its place when it comes to social problems.
“[The] A next-generation car … I couldn’t dream it would go as well as it did, “NASCAR President Steve Phelps said at a news conference on June 9, marking NASCAR’s diversity efforts in San Francisco.” The race was just extraordinary. .
“It was a journey. Our ratings are rising. Our attendance is increasing. We have a whole new group of racing fans who come to the track, watch TV, participate in digital and social networks. It works.”
NASCAR believes that it attracts new fans thanks not only to the new car. There are new owners, including the great basketball player Michael Jordan and the world-famous Pitbull musician.
Jordan’s team also has Bubba Wallace, the only full-time black driver in the Cup Series, behind the wheel. While Wallace’s advocacy for social justice has polarized with some NASCAR fans, he has played a key role in creating a friendly environment in the sport.
It should also be noted that with his victory earlier this month at Sonoma, Daniel Suarez became the first Mexican driver to win a Cup race.
Quick thoughts: A historic day for Daniel Suarez and NASCAR
Bob Pokras shatters the historic victory in the Daniel Suarez Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway.
In addition to the overall increase in ratings, NASCAR has seen growth among blacks and Latin American demographics over the past four years and expects fans to be the highest since at least 2015, said NASCAR Senior Vice President of Broadcasting Brian Herbst.
“We were up in 2020 compared to 2019, again in 2021, up again in 2022,” Herbst told FOX Sports in an interview last week.
And NASCAR continues to move to new places. The Coliseum of Los Angeles and Gateway (near St. Louis) were new to this year’s Cup schedule, and the Cup Series is in its second year and goes to Nashville Superspeedway, Circuit of the Americas in Austin and Road America in Wisconsin.
It was also the second time this year that Cup pilots had competed on soil placed on Bristol’s concrete surface. This time, however, it came as an event in the prime time of Easter, a controversial move to compete over the holiday weekend, but which won higher television ratings.
NASCAR is likely to finalize its schedule for 2023 in August. But it has already been announced that Clash will return to the Coliseum in Los Angeles on February 5, with the Daytona 500 two weeks later on February 19, and the championship race is scheduled to return to Phoenix on November 5.
“As we think about 2023 and beyond, ideally we’d like to get another big place, another new place on the schedule in 2023,” said NASCAR Senior Vice President Ben Kennedy, who is in charge of planning, in an interview. for NASCAR RaceDay before the Sonoma Race. “And what it looks like, whether it’s a road, a street or a short track, is not entirely certain.
“But let’s hope that in the next month or two we will be able to share a little more. And then to continue the evolution in the 24th and beyond. We are already starting to think in five to 10 years, where do we want the schedule to be? And then how do we build a road map to get there? “
NASCAR has considered Chicago and Meadows for potential temporary street chains. New Orleans is also mentioned as an opportunity.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps on a 2023 schedule
At a news conference in San Francisco, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the plan is to stay bold with the 2023 schedule he hopes to release in August.
The only big question is whether a street chain will take the place of one of the roads.
“We are reaching a point where we may have some saturation,” Phelps told FOX Sports after a press conference in San Francisco. “We will continue to listen to the fans and see what they are interested in seeing.
“They told us they wanted more courses and short runs. The short track issue was difficult. We managed to do the part with the track really well. It’s a good combination for us right now.”
Phelps also looked at several topics that have appeared on NASCAR in the past month:
“It took about seven minutes to get Chris Buscher’s overturned car back to Charlotte, which Buescher co-owner Brad Keselowski thought was too long.” Buscher said he understood that for the first time, NASCAR’s safety team had to turn a next-generation car back on four wheels, and he thought it had done a good job, although he wished it could be done faster.
“What happened to the Bushehr situation is this [safety response] the group did exactly what they were trained to do, ”Phelps said.“ There are other measures we could have taken if Chris had been injured, but we would have done differently.
“We understand that it is uncomfortable for a driver to be upside down. We understand that it is not perfect, but this is the surest way for us to get the driver out and the group did it flawlessly.”
– NASCAR has chosen not to interfere in the feud between Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain, and so far has treated any retribution as self-control.
“We talked about self-control,” Phelps said. “Drivers are self-monitoring … As long as this car is not used as a weapon, we will inspect it, and if we thought it had crossed the line, we would have done so. [more]”
– NASCAR recently posted a tweet in Pride Month that said: “We recognize that the latest action is not in line with NASCAR’s mission to be a friendly sport for all.”
Phelps would not go into detail, but repeated the message.
“Overall, we as a sport have not been so hospitable and inclusive to the LBGTQ community – and we want to be,” he said. “This is another important group we want to connect with.
“We want our sport to be as hospitable and inclusive as it can be. And that’s what our existing fans – above all, not all of them – want to [do is] to share their sport with others, whether it’s someone’s sexual orientation or skin color or whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s a love of racing that they want to celebrate with each other. ”
Steve Phelps on diversity at NASCAR
Part of NASCAR’s press conference in San Francisco was to promote its policies for diversity and inclusion.
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Think out loud
Last weekend was the only weekend in the regular season of the NASCAR Cup series. Traditionally, NASCAR had two days off, and that increased to three in a few years, when NBC did not want conflicts with the Olympics.
Few will regret the teams and the pilots; work in professional sports. And larger teams have planned additional weekends for mechanics and engineers to prevent burns. However, due to the shortage of next-generation car parts, those who work in shops work long hours to keep up, as they often have to remove parts and parts of cars that have recently competed, and get them in cars for a race in the next week or two.
Based on what we know about next year’s schedule for the announced dates for the Daytona 500 and the end of the season in Phoenix, it looks like there will be only one weekend off in 2023. This is difficult for athletes and their families. .
It can be frustrating for those who work in sports not to have more breaks. The key will be for teams to monitor their staff and adapt, especially teams that know they will be in the post-season and need full energy for this playoff of 10 races.
Statistics for the day
Daniel Suarez was the second Cup driver to win his first cup of his career at Sonoma Raceway. The other? Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007
They said it
“We keep fucking every week.” – Kevin Harwick after a slow pit stop it turned out to be expensive at Sonoma
Bob Pokras has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after a time at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR newsletter with Bob Pocrass!
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