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Is there a lack of star power in NASCAR in recent years?


The NASCAR Talladega Superspeedway race saw a significant decrease of 11.4% in viewership this year, despite Ryan Blaney winning by a slim margin of 0.012 seconds over Kevin Harvick. The competition was intense, but it revealed a major issue for NASCAR: a potential lack of star power. The question lingers: Can the past top racers truly be replaced?

In the past, NASCAR was known for having popular drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson. However, as these iconic figures retired, the excitement surrounding the sport decreased. In a lively interview on “Bringing the Heat,” ESPN’s Marty Smith acknowledges the decline in well-known drivers.

Marty Smith’s Perspective on the Challenge of Celebrity Influence

The discussion was initiated by FrontStretch’s thought-provoking remark: throughout the years, NASCAR has said goodbye to iconic figures. The pressing question is whether the sport has successfully filled the void left by these legends or if it is facing a challenge in terms of star power or marketing. Smith pondered the question, reflecting on a time when names like Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick were household names even among casual sports enthusiasts.

According to Marty Smith, casual sports fans may be familiar with certain names, but he questions if they could name 10 NASCAR drivers at the moment. While many may know the name Chase Elliot, there are other talented drivers like Bill Elliot who may not be as well known.

“I mean, when we were doing the sport, NASCAR was on Sports Center a minimum of three days a week and typically more than that. So, I mean, that’s, look, I’m sorry, I think that that’s part of it. It’s just like the repetition, you know, almost the kind of habitual consumption. And I just wonder what’s coming.” 

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Smith also mentioned, “Will it follow the same format as other network packages? Will there be any streaming options involved? I don’t know. However, whoever is responsible for promoting these well-known names, there will need to be a significant amount of advertising, my colleagues, correct? I mean, a substantial amount of advertising.”

Lately, NASCAR’s playoff viewership has fluctuated. What were the figures?

Fluctuations in Audience Numbers: NASCAR vs. Formula 1

Unexpectedly, despite its current difficulties, NASCAR’s most recent playoff round in Texas experienced a significant increase in viewership, surpassing that of Formula One’s Japanese Grand Prix. The event drew in two million viewers on the Comcast-owned USA Network, compared to a mere 479,000 for F1. This serves as a small sign of hope, a brief reminder of NASCAR’s past success. However, the question remains: is it sufficient?

The plot thickens as both NASCAR and Formula One exist in separate worlds despite fluctuating viewer numbers. NASCAR is aiming to extend their media contract, with hopes of securing the same $820 million per year as their current deal. On the other hand, Formula One is facing declining viewership despite significant investments. The key now is adapting to change and determining who will come out on top.

NASCAR’s latest creation has garnered a strong fan following, despite initially causing disappointment among the community.

In 2023, NASCAR celebrated its 75th year of racing, but the excitement of this milestone has not been reflected on television. While the races have been filled with excitement and have seen 14 different winners this season, there seems to be a lack of connection with fans. The Talladega race had all the elements of drama, adrenaline, and nail-biting finishes, but it failed to draw in a large audience.

Is NASCAR Experiencing a Lack of Star Power in Recent Years? This was posted on EssentiallySports.