For the first time this season we’ve seen the power of the fans opinion affecting NASCAR executive’s decision on some key aspects of the sport. In the offseason many fans showed there dislike of the two car tandem we saw all last season at both Daytona and Talladega races. The two car tandem brought less exciting three-wide racing at Daytona and Talladega.
Less cautions and a more spread out field made the race feel like we were at Michigan or another big non-restrictor plate track. The “big” one that is hard to avoid when going around the track in big packs wasn’t occurring randomly only at some restarts in the late going. Fans showed their dismay towards this style of racing at the two premiere tracks, Daytona and Talladega.
So NASCAR attempted to create ways to restrict that type of racing. The big idea that would make this style of racing difficult is eliminating drivers communicating with each other when drafting together. All of these ideas came together and worked to limit two car tandem racing and at this year’s fiery and wet Daytona 500 we saw pack racing make its return.
This style of pack racing isn’t the same as we saw around 2005. In 2005 the cars ran in a pack but not as close together, they ran a little separated and if they made significant contact the car would usually get out of shape and potentially wreck. In the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in 2005 we saw a twenty-five car pileup which started when a car made significant contact with another. That’s the style of pack racing that most fans remember and would like to come back. Most fans are currently content with the current style of pack racing though.
Another example of how fans are getting more say than ever is the Bristol reconfiguration project. The spring Bristol race of 2012 was close to being a disaster. The morning rain kept an estimated 8,000 fans away and then the clean racing and long green flag runs made for a disastrous race for Bristol’s image and had many fans disappointed with the racing they saw.
Many people noticed that there were very few people in the grandstands compared to the sold out crowds Bristol used to bring in. The racing was boring and not a typical short track racing where beating and banging was just a part of the race. The only real carnage we saw was when Kasey Kahne thought he was clear but wasn’t and Regan Smith turned him into the wall and then Kahne spun back across the track causing a big pileup which took out a dominant driver at Bristol, Kyle Busch.
Soon after the race fans complaints about the racing at Bristol led Bruton Smith, SMI CEO, to ask fans for their opinion on whether Bristol Motor Speedway needed to undergo changes. The fans spoke and Smith listened, he announced a few weeks later that the Bristol Motor Speedway would undergo changes before this August’s night race at Bristol.
The changes are going to be announced soon. NASCAR fans spoke and said we want changes to be made and now there will be changes being made. In both examples it shows how NASCAR fans are now getting a say in changes occurring in NASCAR. Both of these changes involve brining exciting racing back and hopefully growing the sport to new fans who will appreciate this exciting racing. Who knows what next change will occur in NASCAR, but the fans will likely have a say in whatever is being considered to change.