Jared C. Tilton / Stringer
When NASCAR announced it would break each race into three stages at the beginning of last season, the racing world was rocked. Fans seemed mostly opposed to the idea while most drivers were on board with the change. Now, after a season of stage racing in the books, it might be time to look into more changes, according to new champion, Martin Truex Jr.
When asked about the state of the sport by Forbes, Truex said:
“I think the sport’s in a great place as far as the talent on the race track. The racing is absolutely incredible competition. The stage racing this year was something everybody was excited about. I think it panned out well. I think it added a lot to the races, more excitement, more to pay attention to. It wasn’t just watching the first couple of laps, take a break and come back and watch it again. Everybody was racing hard all day. That was a good thing.”
Despite losing some big names, NASCAR does have a lot of intriguing young talent and even a budding rivalry to make sure the on the track product is the best it can be. But Truex thinks talented drivers are not enough to get a new generation of fans into the sport.
“Aside from that, it’s a challenge to get new people interested.” He said. “There are so many things out there to get people’s attention, with phones, the Internet, iPads.
“Not many people want to just sit down and watch a race, so that’s a little difficult and I’m not sure what the best way to go about that is. But I think we’re at a great place as far as the drivers growing a younger fan base. We’ll see where it goes.”
So how should NASCAR address the short attention spans of today’s fans? Forbes took an earlier quote from Truex and ran with it, and we must say, they bring up some interesting points.
Speaking about the championship race at Homestead, Truex expressed concern that the entire championship comes down to a single, 400 mile race with 39 other cars all representing a chance for something to go wrong. Faced with that dilemma, and Truex’s more recent comments about fan’s attention spans, Forbes floated the idea that some fans have also mentioned: Heat racing.
Instead of three stages of one 500 mile race, for example, NASCAR would take a page out of dirt track racing and run two races back to back with the third as a deciding race.
The author explains: “In the case of Daytona, there would be a 125-mile heat for 20 cars, followed by a 125-mile heat for the other 20 cars, then 15-minute break, then a 250-mile race among the top 10 cars from each race for the trophy.”
The time spent on a broadcast would remain almost unchanged, so networks won’t have a problem, and the racing it would produce would be fantastic. A 20 car field seems like the perfect compromise to keep slower lap traffic at bay while still providing the packs and door to door racing that has come to define NASCAR.
What do you have to lose, NASCAR?