NASCAR Running at Full Speed In 2016

Three wide at Charlotte isn't for the weak. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow)

Heading into this season, NASCAR entered a new era in which an iconic Sprint Cup driver closed out his final full-time championship season effort while three young talents full embarked in their rookie efforts in the most prestigious form of stock car racing.

At a bulk of the venues comprising this season’s schedule, NASCAR ushered in the low downforce package that was introduced at last year’s races at Kentucky and Darlington while the races at Michigan welcomed the proposed 2017 configuration with far less downforce.

To say the least, David Bowie’s 1971 hit song “Changes” could sum up the theme of this year in Sprint Cup racing. Despite the changing cars and faces of this series, the sport is running at full speed with its on track product, social media platforms, and merchandising.

As the sport has embraced the lower downforce package at a bulk of the tracks on the Cup circuit, fans have made their presence known with the telecasts across NASCAR’s partners in FOX, FS1, FS2, NBC, and NBCSN.

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled hard for the win in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow of TPF)

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled hard for the win in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow of TPF)

Consider the fact that through the 18th race of the season held at Kentucky Speedway, TV ratings are up by double digits in major markets like New York City, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and West Palm Beach.  Interestingly, those locales are within driving distance of tracks like Watkins Glen, Pocono, Fontana, Dover, Richmond, Daytona, and Homestead-Miami.

While the season started off slowly with the TV ratings for the Daytona 500 and Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta, the ratings gap has shrunk from -18% to -3% following the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Recently, this year’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the most watched program on NBCSN and the most-watched running of this race since 2013.

Naturally, race fans do more than just watch the NASCAR action on TV.  In a living room or sports bar across the country, it’s more than likely that this race fan has their cell phone or tablet on hand.  When it comes to the destination for race fans for their electronic means of information and insights, Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular social media platforms associated with NASCAR.

With the sport fully immersing itself on Facebook and Twitter, it’s quite impressive to note that NASCAR’s accounts on both platforms have generated more than 2.5 billion impressions to date.  NASCAR Digital Media has registered 576 million page views and 182 million on and off platform video views.

Fans truly make their presence known with NASCAR’s Facebook and Twitter accounts as there’s been more than 76 million video views, more than five times as many as last year.  Overall, engagement with content on NASCAR’s social platforms is up +83% year-over-year with more than 114 million total engagements.

Jimmie Johnson - not so vanilla since he tweets!

Jimmie Johnson – not so vanilla since he tweets!

In basic terms, fans cannot get enough of NASCAR as they’ll get their digital piece of the action on social media. Nowadays, racing lovers can instantly get a vantage point of their favorite driver or team during the weekend from a simple tweet or Facebook photo.  There’s also the opportunity for NASCAR fans to interact with their favorite drivers or crew members on places like Facebook and Twitter which truly shows how powerful social media can be as a useful tool for fans and for the participants of the sport.

Naturally, race fans are unwavering in their support of their favorite drivers and teams.  Merchandising is a vital component to the sport in terms of satisfying fans’ needs of showing their pride be it with die-cast cars replicas, apparel, or autographed memorabilia.

Kyle Busch fans have made quite a statement with purchasing merchandise commemorating the defending Sprint Cup champion.

To date, Kyle Busch’s sales at the Fanatics Trackside superstore have increased 80 percent since his midseason comeback that catalyzed his title crowning moment last November at Homestead-Miami, FL.  Partners like Lionel Racing and New Era have played pivotal roles with fans making their plentiful purchases at the track.  After all, like the Beach Boys once sang, “Be True To Your School,” or NASCAR driver and team in this case.

Although the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship has yet to ensue, it’s quite clear that the on-track action, partners, media outlets, and fans have been the catalysts with the increased consumption of NASCAR racing in broadcast, digital, and social media outlets.

Ultimately, passion runs deep in the world of NASCAR, regardless if it’s a driver, a crew member, journalist, or race fan who all share a love for this evolving sport.

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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