It is official: NASCAR has fallen as a legitimate sport and is now occupying the same genre as the WWE. It has become a former sport that we now know is purely for entertainment value only. Too many restrictions, including those imposed on drivers’ emotions and choice of words and language, have taken their toll. Even with NASCAR backing off on their driver impositions this year, the declination of the once-respected revered sport has not stopped.
But you cannot blame Brian France alone; no, the drivers and owners must also accept their fair share of the blame for the current state of the sport. Their willingness to accept a closed-mouth, non-interfering stance on the changes NASCAR has implemented in the past decade has only added to the apathetic attitude of former die-hard fans of the sport.
The demise of the late Dale Earnhardt probably also had much to do with the malignant state of stock car racing.
The once-powerful Earnhardt was not outspoken, but when he did speak, NASCAR had no choice but to listen. One has to wonder what his opinion of Brian France’s ideas might have been before his tragic accident occurred, as France implemented his grand plan the years that followed.
Would he have approved? Would he have objected? Would NASCAR have listened? Was it inevitable?
A powerful voice like Earnhardt’s might have kept changes in check to the point where NASCAR might have retained its legitimacy as a powerful and influential sport.
Regardless, other voices have spoken since Earnhardt, but all have voiced support for the new system, almost to the point of a broken record. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kurt Busch, and Matt Kenseth all have parroted the party line: The Chase is great! Long live The Chase!
Meanwhile, the racing became stale, boring, and predictable. Week in and week out, fans grew to expect the same results time and again. How many times did Jimmie Johnson benefit from the “Lucky Dog” rule, only to go on and win the race?
NASCAR drivers used to have to race to get their laps back, and though not common, many did, in fact, regain one, two, even three or four laps back, legitimately, to go on and win the race, or at least gain a respectable finish.
Today’s “Lucky Dog” rule, combined with phantom caution flags, new tire compounds for every race, and bogus speeding penalties, as well as various other infractions “deemed detrimental to stock car racing” have relegated the once-revered sport to the depths of professional wrestling.
It can no longer be taken seriously.
Like an all-too-powerful snake, the only way to slow down or stop the snake that is NASCAR is to cut off its head. That is not likely to happen, given the legal power of the France dynasty. That only leaves one alternative—a new racing league to replace NASCAR.
The only question is, how long and how far will NASCAR slide before owners and drivers get fed up with its newly gained reputation and decide for a course of substance over entertainment value?
And, who will be vocal enough to lead the charge and endure the string of lawsuits that, I am sure, the France family would bring against any newly formed organizational body?
One can only wonder, but the fact is that the economy is probably not going to get better any time soon, and unless NASCAR is prepared to take some drastic measures, including firing Brian France, the debacle in Indianapolis this past weekend should be a wake-up call for everybody. Even free admission for kids and $40 general admission ticket prices couldn’t lure enough people to fill half the seats. That should speak volumes.
People cannot afford the astronomical costs associated with race attendance and why should they?
They know the outcome before the race is run anyway. They know that the top players will make The Chase, and if they don’t, NASCAR will change the rules the following year to ensure that they do.