NASCAR Has Had a Very Bad Week, and It’s Only Thursday
The first day of April is a prankster’s dream. The first few days of April for NASCAR have been a nightmare. One dose of bad news after another has hit the sanctioning body in the first week. Here’s a look back at what NASCAR has endured.
Race teams don’t show up for meeting with NASCAR execs
For months NASCAR executives and team owners have been in talks about the upcoming television contract, set to begin in 2025. Teams want a larger piece of the revenue pie in the new deal — more than the current split of 65% to tracks, 25% to teams, and 10% to NASCAR — because they believe the current sponsor-dependent business model is broken and unsustainable.
Last October, Jeff Gordon, and several other team execs went public over the negotiations because they believed there was a lack of progress behind closed doors.
Fast forward to this week. Yesterday, specifically. That’s when various reports indicated that the team owners boycotted their regularly scheduled monthly meeting with NASCAR execs to display their displeasure with the governing body over several items.
According to The Athletic, NASCAR and team owners are at a “point of relative satisfaction” regarding the revenue-sharing model, but there’s a disagreement over the charter system and making it permanent. Charters, which are effectively franchises owned by the teams, have dramatically increased in value recently.
The Associated Press later reported that the sides had made progress on key issues, but there was a “significant impasse” on the charters and a main reason for the boycott.
National Motorsports Appeals Panel reduces Kaulig penalty
And getting stood up by the teams was just the start of it.
Later in the day, NASCAR absorbed a second punch when the National Motorsports Appeals Panel again went against the sanctioning body’s initial penalty decision and reduced the punishment in the Kaulig Racing louvers case.
The three-person panel upheld the $100,000 fine, loss of 10 owner and driver playoff points, and four-race suspension of crew chief Trent Owens. However, the initial penalty of 100 driver and owner points for the regular season was reduced to 75.
While that was a reduction and effectively saying NASCAR got it wrong in its initial ruling, it was nowhere near the scale of what happened last week when another panel ruled on the Hendrick Motorsports louvers case and upheld the combined $400,000 fine and crew chief suspensions, but rescinded the most significant portion of the punishment, and restored all the points.
Fan viewership dramatically declining
Those two pieces of bad news on Wednesday for NASCAR were just the latest. The ugliness started on Tuesday when the television ratings for this past weekend’s race at Richmond came out, and it wasn’t good. But that wasn’t even the worst of it. What’s more problematic is the total overall television viewership has dramatically declined since the Clash at the Coliseum.
The Richmond race isn’t the best example because it was the first Sunday race aired on FS1. Compared to last year’s spring race on the 3/4-mile track, which aired on Fox, it was down a shocking 41.8%. Compared to last year’s first Sunday race on FS1, it was still down 11.9%. It’s a sign of a much bigger problem.
Over the season’s first eight races, the numbers for every race are down compared to last year’s, including multiple events that have seen their viewership totals drop in double-digits, including the Clash (14.8%), Las Vegas (12.2%), Phoenix (15.1%), Atlanta (14.5%) and COTA (16.1%).
Teams are upset with NASCAR over stalled negotiations and boycott a meeting. The appeals panel disagrees with the sanctioning body’s initial ruling and rescinds a portion of the Kaulig Racing penalty. And if that wasn’t enough, the television ratings are tanking.
It hasn’t been a good week for NASCAR. Maybe the Bristol Dirt can at least reverse the trend of declining viewership. Or, maybe it’s just more dirt kicked in NASCAR’s face.
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