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Memo to fans: Survival relies on growth

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports
Memo to fans: Survival relies on growth

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Brian France has intimated that changes to the Chase are coming, including a possible elimination fo …

No time to waste, because we are fully loaded this week talking about Juan Pablo Montoya's loss, Mark Martin's future and, oh yeah, a backlash against me for saying that if NASCAR wants better television ratings, it needs to get out of the NFL's way.

Let's get to the mailbag:

Why do they have you writing about NASCAR when it is obvious that you would rather be writing about the NFL? That is like having a reviewer that only likes The Beatles reviewing a Kenny Chesney concert. Stupid. The problem with NASCAR is they are trying to be like the NFL instead of what they started out being, a motor sport.

Susan W. Linden St. Albans, W.V.

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Why is the "Yahoo editor for NASCAR" putting down NASCAR in the last paragraph of his column? Get out of the way of the NFL? Screw that. I don't even see the two as being competition. Why are comments on the column not allowed? I think Yahoo needs to find another "editor" to cover NASCAR.


So you think NASCAR needs to change its schedule to stay out of the NFL's way? Really? NASCAR has run the same 10 month time span for how many years? Changing when NASCAR runs will not do anything for anybody, except maybe the NFL. Sadly, you are the NASCAR analyst, not the NFL's so why would you defend them?

What NASCAR needs to do is remove some rules and be more lenient about fines and points and let the drivers drive. France has done a good job working this back into NASCAR and fans are coming back and watching more and more. So do all of the NASCAR fans reading your articles and leave the NFL out, we do not care about them as much as I believe you do.

Keep the articles coming, I really enjoy reading them, just please leave the NFL out of your NASCAR articles and lets praise NASCAR instead of tearing it down.


Do you watch NASCAR? I for one am not interested in football! I am a huge NASCAR fan! I agree they need to make some changes for the Chase, but to say they need to get out of the way for NFL is going too far. Why doesn't the NFL get out of the way of NASCAR? Hope you hear from other NASCAR fans that agree with me. I can do without my husband watching NFL!


Every week my mailbox is flooded with complaints about NASCAR doing this and NASCAR doing that, so it's good see some of you actually sticking up for the sport.

Maybe I didn't make my point clearly enough, though, because I could fill up an entire mailbag with email after email echoing these same thoughts. I'm not saying NASCAR needs to get out of the NFL's way just because. But if their intended goal is to reach a broader audience and stop the ratings slide they're in, then no, I don't believe simply tweaking the Chase is going to accomplish that, and yes, I think they need to rethink the back end of the Cup schedule.

Look, I appreciate your passion, especially those of you who email in every week saying, "I've been a diehard fan since 1960 … ," but you can't hold it against NASCAR for trying to wrangle in a younger audience. For the sport to survive, they have to, because at some point the diehard fan from 1960 isn't going to be around, and then what's the sport to do?

The reality is every sport must continue to reach out to newer, younger fans in order to survive. Nature dictates that, not Brian France. And contrary to what emailer Bob thinks, NASCAR is in competition with the NFL, especially when it comes to reaching newer and younger fans.

And for those who think NASCAR cares too much about television ratings, you should, too, because if you're complaining now about races being shown on ESPN or TNT, what are you going to do when they're relegated to some obscure channel (see the IRL, if you can) because the ratings don't warrant them being shown anywhere else?

Take all the shots you want at me about "tearing down" the sport, but in order for you to enjoy NASCAR, there first has to be a NASCAR – one that is readily available in your living room, and that won't continue to happen if NASCAR were to operate in a vacuum like a lot of you seem to want it to.

No question but ur a ass. NFL need to get out of NASCAR. NASCAR season starts at the end of football season. How much about nascar do u really know? Not much it appears to me

Bryan Arender

The Chase, Bryan, the Chase begins when the NFL season does. Read a bit more carefully next time.

I couldn't help laughing at your reference to NASCAR "seeking a tricked-out formula that will almost guarantee a one-race, winner-take-all showdown." Please tell me what you consider the Chase, if not a gimmick. It's the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with the sport today.

I covered motor sports for more than 30 years before retiring from the daily newspaper grind and obviously NASCAR was a major part of that, at Riverside, Ontario, Fontana and elsewhere. I enjoyed it immensely and made some friends along the way. Two of the prized possessions in my office are a letter from Ricky Rudd wishing me well in retirement and a NASCAR checkered flag signed by every driver in the 2006 Cup series.

Now, however, I seldom pay any attention to the series. Since Brian France took over, far too many "gimmicks" have been employed, allegedly to fix what was wrong. The Chase was the first – and worst – of those, but the result of all of them is that NASCAR lost its identity and its core fans and doesn't know how to find either of them again.

Jim Short
Riverside, Calif.

Change is hard to accept sometimes, especially when you have deep roots. Me, I was totally against the wild card in baseball, but now I think it's a great addition.

The thing is, Jim, that while there is a very vocal anti-Chase faction, more people appear to like it than don't. Polls on our site have been overwhelmingly in favor of it.

As for it being a gimmick, I don't think so. If NASCAR gins up some convoluted rules to ensure a photo finish? Yes, then it becomes a gimmick. But for me, a 10-race format is a good compromise between those who want a more dramatic finish and those who want to maintain the idea that consistency over a long period matters.

Maybe NASCAR should have their races on Saturday night during football season. It sure would be better for me since I am not only a NASCAR fan, but I'm a huge Bills fan, and an even bigger Yankee fan. Needless to say, September and October are two of my favorite months! Saturday nights are meant for racing!

Denise Mower
Horseheads, N.Y.

You're right, for a lot of fans Saturday nights are meant for racing, especially at local tracks, whose owners will beg you not put Cup races up against theirs. The other part of this equation is the networks, who don't like Saturday night broadcasts because the ratings aren't as good.

Judging by the attendance and ratings, nothing NASCAR can do to the Chase will make die hard fans come back. In fact since the inception of the Chase, ratings and attendance have steadily fallen. A lazy NASCAR executive may point to the economy and fuel prices etc., but NASCAR has always been an affordable family sport that steadily grew for 20 years, before the Chase. Fans of my generation could compare Dale Sr. with Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart. Each position in every race meant points toward a title. Each race on the schedule meant just as much as any other. Drivers and crews would rush to the garage with damage hoping to get back on the track for that one critical position, those crucial 5 points.

Now the first 26 races mean very little, no one understands the point system, just that Jeff Gordon in 2nd place overall will reset in the 12th position and Jimmie Johnson will get to run roughshod on flat mile and a half tracks.

NASCAR lots it's soul, it's roots with the made for TV Chase and no "tweaking" to the current system will do anything but confuse and alienate an already ticked off NASCAR nation. The Chase is a failure and one only needs to look at the half empty stands at the Brickyard for evidence.

John Joseph
Los Angeles

On your article, "Montoya's tough luck is McMurray's gain", I wish you and everyone else would look at the facts before blaming Montoya's crew chief Brian Pattie! He said the right thing in order to take some of the sting out of driver error for the second straight year because Montoya is a head case!

Last year the driver was speeding down pit road, no brainer on whose fault that is. This year, the driver didn't even finish the race! It wasn't because he took four new tires that Montoya didn't finish! Maybe if he would have finished and not made up any ground, then there is no issue with four tires maybe not being the best idea, but when the driver puts it in the wall because he couldn't handle a corner on four new tires it isn't the crew chiefs fault.

Outside of that, I read your articles regularly and enjoy them a great deal! Thanks for your time!

Timothy Cornelissen
South Jordan, Utah

What's this, an email about Sunday's race?

In my article, I actually defend the call crew chief Brian Pattie made. Did it turn out to be the wrong one? Yes. But I still believe it was the right one at the time.

As for Montoya crashing out, at that point it was wreckers or checkers for him. Finishing fifth was meaningless, especially considering where he sits in the standings. And so I think what we saw was a driver, feeling the win slipping away, overdriving his car in an effort to make something out of nothing.

And yes, let's give a tip of the cap to Pattie for taking the blame afterwards. Classy move.

Mark Martin's future

So Rick Hendrick finally acknowledged the Mark Martin issue. If memory serves me correct. Isn't Rick Hendrick the same guy that said "I have no intentions of firing Tony Eury Jr." last year. Rick Hendrick isn't exactly the most trustworthy tool in the shed or however that goes!

Darrell Watts
Harmony, N.C.

Hendrick did say he was "convinced that [Junior and Eury are] better together," but things change, so I wouldn't hold that against Hendrick.

That said, there's no doubt in my mind that Hendrick is waiting for and hoping that Mark Martin will step aside. If that weren't the case, we would hear a clear declaration from Hendrick that Martin will be back in the No. 5 next season. So far, we haven't gotten anything remotely close to that other than Hendrick saying he's leaving 2011 in Mark's hands.

I understand Martin's frustration over all the speculation about where he will be next season, but if he's going to be mad at anyone, it should be Rick Hendrick for not squashing any and all rumors.

Fantasy land

Per the usual, here are my picks this week:

A group:Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch
B group: Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, David Reutimann
C group: AJ Allmendinger, Sam Hornish Jr.

Last call …

Ay Chihuahua!

Juan M.
Bogota, Colombia

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