NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in the country, raking in millions of dollars yearly and attracting thousands of fans to every race. The sport is thought to provide the right amount of action and excitement, so why are discussions taking place about changing the product that is placed on the track?
NASCAR chairman Brian France recently made a commitment to improve the sport by steering the sport in the right direction and do whatever that can be done to increase viewership and the number of fans who watch events. France told The Associated Press in London, where he spoke recently in the Beyond Sport's annual summit, that the sport can do better. He added that with new cars that are being developed, he wants to make NASCAR even more of a household name, which he knows will be difficult, but he and his colleagues are working hard to make sure they get it right.
Senior vice president of NASCAR Steve O'Donnell has been tasked with repurposing the North Carolina research and development center in order to divide the R&D department from the competition department, in an effort to improve the rules package before the 2013 cars are introduced, the source reported.
Fans have complained about the races that have taken place so far this year, saying that a two-month stretch of a lot of green-flag racing wasn't the least bit entertaining, which NASCAR answered by making slight changes to its vehicles. The cars racing on the track now have had aerodynamic changes that were made twice this season to make passing easier.
France stated that if they think of changes that can be made now, he wouldn't hesitate to have the plans implemented in 2013.
“If you are a real purist, you may think it was a great event,” France said. “But if you are a casual fan, you may have wanted to see lots of touchdowns or lots of lead changes. Things that make you go ‘wow.’
He added that he is one of those people who would like to be entertained throughout the race, wowed by close finishes, uncertainty and lead changes, but other people may be looking for something else from the sport. France's goal is to supersede what any NASCAR purists on his staff might prefer.
“I overrule them, quite frankly, because I have to,” France said. “We can’t have four strategies going on. There aren’t a whole lot of people who don’t want to see more lead changes, or a photo finish, or slamming and banging coming out of the fourth turn."
According to France, last year's season finale was perfect for fans as Tony Stewart used the win to tie Carl Edwards in the championship race and win the title on a tie-breaker. The NASCAR CEO considers it the greatest performance he's ever seen from a driver and team.
“We want to put it more in the driver’s hands," France said about future races to the source. "It’s a contact sport and if you have a chance to win and are in second place on the last lap, would I expect there to be some contact if you have a faster car? Absolutely. The guys who don’t do that, that’s not our rules. ”
He added that he and other NASCAR enthusiasts he works with wants to see excitement like every other fan of the sport.
NASCAR has also recently tightened up its drug policy, indefinitely suspending Sprint Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger when results from his sample urine test revealed that he violated NASCAR's substance-abuse policy.