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NASCAR Cup Series

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 is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson 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 is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.





    August 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Man, I could have used this for my marketing paper 😉 Great piece Rob and fantastic photos Zach!!


    Michael Daly

    August 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Those stats about ratings are NOT believeable in the least. The poor crowds at numerous tracks are indicative of a net loss of popularity, and negative reaction to NASCAR is what drives social media presence, not embracement of a sport whose competitiveness remains in decline when it should be stepping up.

    • Ashley Hobbs

      August 17, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Thank you for your reply Michael. It is hard to argue with the actual facts and figures provided. Yes, the sport has lost a lot of it’s greatness. I also feel a lot of the ratings decline is due to other methods of watching television these days, such as the NBC or Fox apps where a viewer can stream the race. Television these days should always be taken with a grain of salt because they rarely report out on how many people have streamed the race. When it comes to getting butts in the seats, I think the fans are still annoyed with the lack of on track action; a driver gets out front and they drive away and there is little passing in the pack. Fans will pay for a show, not a driver dominating an entire race.

      As for social media, I think it is more the drivers that are behind the social media growth; not NASCAR. Sure, we all go to social media to vent about the insane things NASCAR may put in place or say, but Facebook and Twitter (especially) are a great way that brings the sport to the fans and I only see this growing more and more as technology changes.

      There is a lot that can be said on this topic for sure, but with the stats given and obtained, it is what it is for now. If NASCAR wants to get better, they should listen more to the drivers and fans. I think they have slowly been doing that, but we have a long way to go to get back to the top. NASCAR still remains the 4th most popular sport in America, so we should be mighty proud of that! 🙂

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