Ratings or attendance? It may be time for NASCAR to make the call

Jay Busbee

The most stark reminder of the way NASCAR has faded from its early-2000s boom days is visible in the background of almost every photo taken during a race: the dwindling attendance, the swathes of empty seats and benches. (Monday's Daytona 500 was a notable exception.) Couch it however you like, with gigantic tarps or multicolored seats, the effect is the same: attendance has declined, and given the costs of attending a race, it's not particularly surprising.

On the other hand, ratings are climbing steadily year-over-year, and an astonishing 36 million people watched at least part of the race, with 13 million watching the entire race. Compare that to the estimated 140,000 in attendance at Daytona, and numbers start to add up, yes?

At his Phoenix media session on Friday, Brad Keselowski brought up the question of whether ratings or attendance are more important for NASCAR. The phenomenal ratings for Fox on Monday night, the network's best since the World Series, could, and perhaps should, force NASCAR to re-evaluate whether weeknight racing is a feasible idea.

We've discussed the idea in this space before, but while a Monday night race might not sit well with certain fans, why not consider the idea of an early-season night race to pick up some new some fans? NASCAR's fan base is sacred, but perhaps it's time for a move that would increase the fan base, even if it comes at the expense of some of the butts in seats. (One way to serve both masters: pick a track, like Texas or Martinsville, that has two dates a season.)

Your take? Is it time for NASCAR to look bigger-picture in considering a growth of its fanbase?

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