NASCAR and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week
NASCAR, like any sport, doesn’t want to be making the headlines. Officials would prefer fans read about the race and the drivers rather than rescinded disqualifications. But this week, the sanctioning body has been front and center multiple times, and, unfortunately, it’s for all the wrong reasons.
The weekend’s worth of playoff races at Homestead can’t get here soon enough.
NASCAR rescinds Ryan Blaney disqualification
Sunday is race day, always the biggest news day of the week for NASCAR.
This past Sunday, Kyle Larson drew most of the attention after winning at Las Vegas and clinching his spot at Phoenix and the Championship 4. However, his perch atop the NASCAR news cycle didn’t last long because he was supplanted hours later when the governing body announced the disqualification of Ryan Blaney for a left front shock that failed to meet the specified length in post-race inspection.
The DQ was, unsurprisingly, big news. It got exponentially bigger less than 24 hours later when NASCAR announced that it had found fault in its inspection process and was rescinding the penalty to the No. 12 team.
NASCAR Cup Series managing director Brad Moran acknowledged this wasn’t a good look for the organization during an appearance on NASCAR Race Hub.
“We realized that there was an inconsistency with the template,” Moran said. “We then fully inspected the shock in question. There was nothing wrong with the shock in question, and we had to get it right. It was a big call. It’s unfortunate. Last thing we want to be doing is talking about a situation like this after the great race we had in Vegas.”
NASCAR TV ratings show sharp decline
According to Jeff Gluck’s Good Race Poll, 73% of fans agreed that the Las Vegas race was entertaining with comers and goers, numerous lead changes, and a last-lap battle for the win between Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell. But those numbers aren’t official, and they don’t accurately reflect the television viewing audience watching at home.
According to Sports Media Watch, 2.194 million viewers tuned in to watch the Round of 8 playoff race on NBC, which ranked 11th on the day behind the NFL (games themselves, pregame shows, and postgame shows) and MLB’s American League Championship Series.
Most concerning, though? This year’s TV audience featured a sharp decline of 16.2% compared to last year’s 2.619 million average viewers of the Vegas race on the same network.
TV contract talks stalled
Speaking of TV, NASCAR and its negotiations with the networks on a new contract, which would begin in 2025, have been in the news for months. In July, the organization announced the Xfinity Series would be carried exclusively on The CW Network.
However, no recent developments have transpired on the Cup Series TV deal. According to Sport Business Journal, those negotiations are still in a holding pattern.
“Back in the spring, sources said to expect new NASCAR deals by the middle of summer,” SBJ’s John Ourand wrote. “In the middle of the summer, they pushed the likely agreements to Labor Day. This week, executives did not want to hazard a guess, not even off the record.”
Ourand added that, by all accounts, the negotiations are going well.
Are they, though? Is no news good news? NASCAR officials would certainly want fans to believe there’s nothing to see here. They would also want fans to forget about the Blaney DQ and subsequent rescission. Based on the lackluster TV ratings, not nearly as many fans know about the post-race drama because they never tuned into the race in the first place.