The future of NASCAR

Photo provided by NASCAR.com

Photo provided by NASCAR.com

Kevin Costello, Staff Writer

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Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be many NASCAR stories here on the Talon website for the next few years, so here’s a story to fill that gap. NASCAR is at a weird place right now. Like every other major sport, TV ratings have been down, and the sport’s top stars have retired or are going to within the next few years. The premier series is in its first season with a new series sponsor for the first time since 2004. Heck, NASCAR even unveiled a new logo this year after an almost 40 year run of its old one. There’s a lot of change going on and a lot of old-school fans hate change. It seems like every one of them complains that the sport needs to go back to “the good ol’ days” where racing was truly racing. Well, although “the good ol’ days” were fun, that was then, and the future is now.

Although its only 7 weeks into the season, the young phenomes of NASCAR look as if they are ready to contend for the title. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney occupy four of the top six spots in the standings, including the top two. They are all under the age of 27. Last year at this time, only one driver under the age of 30 was in the top 12 in points! As the next couple of years go by, I expect this trend of young drivers up towards the front of the point standings to continue.

Not only is the “changing of the guards” occurring within the sport in the form of driver changes, the races themselves have received a makeover. New to this year, all premier series races have and will feature stages within them. These were implemented to up the incentive for drivers to race harder throughout the entire race so they can earn the most points possible (points are awarded at the end of each stage to the top 10 drivers at that time.) Another reason why stages were added is so the TV networks can show commercials during the stage breaks rather than during green flag racing. There are still commercials during live action in NASCAR, which can be frustrating at times, but give credit to NASCAR for making changes that benefit the fans.
Speaking of TV, one thing that NASCAR has going for it is an 8.2 billion dollar deal with FOX and NBC. This guarantees that all races will be on shown live on FOX and NBC affiliated stations through 2024. That deal is great and all, but where and how will races be shown after that? The last few years have shown a huge increase in streaming numbers with all sports. Does that mean laptops and smartphones will replace TVs? Probably not, but it’s definitely something to think about.

All in all, NASCAR will continue to be an American past-time for many as the years go by. The drivers, the races, and the ways to watch have changed before and they will change again. There’s a whole lot of “new” right now within the sport, and I’m thankful for that. There’s no sense of being stuck in the past when racing towards the future.

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