My NASCAR Numbers

Based on recent remarks, this Daytona draft is overwhelmingly supportive of the radically rearranged Chase. (John Clark photo)

Based on recent remarks, this Daytona draft is overwhelmingly supportive of the radically rearranged Chase. (John Clark photo)

Gotta go...to an indie bookstore!

Clinton, S.C., Sunday, February 2, 2014, 9:42 a.m.

NASCAR is making changes in the way it determines the Sprint Cup champion. I could go into the details, but the changes were announced on Thursday, and they interrupted their normally scheduled Super Bowl coverage on ESPN and Fox Sports 1, and those details are now readily available at innumerable Internet locales, and as you are presently reading this, it seems impossible that you would not have access to this voluminous body of work.

Besides, it’s no secret what I think. I think it takes a nerve to base everything on excitement and nothing on justice and legitimacy. What I find most damnable is simply this: if the 2014 Sprint Cup champion represents the best team, it is going to be mostly a coincidence. I think Jeopardy is exciting, too, but I don’t think Tuesday night’s winner is the smartest person on earth on Tuesday night.

In my mind, I just can’t get around that.

NASCAR officials claim that this is what the fans want. It has shown some of its marketing research to a few people. According to what I have read, seen and heard, this research is cited as being based on fan advisory councils and the like. The problem is that it is based on people who are already the sport’s most supportive fans. It seems a more pertinent object of research would include those who have cooled their ardor or even slipped away. Someone even told me about a question on a survey that had no negative option.

If NASCAR settled its championship on one race, would this be: (a.) exciting, (b.) thrilling, (c.) exactly what I’d love, and (d.) almost exactly what I’d love.

These fans are probably all right with the NASCAR changes. They're still there. (John Clark photo)

These fans are probably all right with the NASCAR changes. They’re still there. (John Clark photo)

OK. That’s exaggerated, but the point is, like all polls, it’s affected by the pool of respondents. Some polls, such as “Fox News poll says Romney will win in a landslide!” are obviously meant to mold, not reflect, public opinion.

So NASCAR’s polling is skewed. At least, though, it’s probably done scientifically, even if the science is used to create what NASCAR wants us to hear.

Lots of people, including me, have asked Twitter followers and Facebook friends to chime in. The validity is affected by the pool of respondents. I have almost 5,000 Facebook friends and almost 6,000 Twitter followers. They are probably inclined to follow me because they like what I write. Some NASCAR media members have many times as many Twitter followers as I. Their polling is more broad-based than mine, but even that is skewed by the perception of the Twitter member who conducts the poll.

Here’s my perception, based, yes, on what I see in the feeds. Twitter is more inclined to be populated with enthusiasts. Facebook is more social in nature but also more broad-based. Here in the small town where I live, a much larger portion of the population is on Facebook than Twitter. The majority of my Twitter followers are intense NASCAR fans. My Facebook friends have a large contingent of NASCAR fans but are also formed, in significance, from my hometown, my college, my musical tastes, my favorite sports teams, etc.

Most of my former colleagues on the NASCAR trail seem to believe that only Twitter matters, so that’s why, when I asked “what do you think about the NASCAR changes?” I posted it on both Twitter and Facebook. Many more responded on Facebook. The landslide support reported by NASCAR officials conflicts with the expressed views of those who pay attention to yours truly.

At this point, I feel compelled to imagine the old script of Dragnet: “In a moment, the results of that trial. …”

One-thousand-one. That’s a moment.

On Twitter, the results on the NASCAR format change were: in favor (“up” by my question), 10; opposed (“down”), 22; undecided, 2. On Facebook: in favor, 8; opposed, 46; undecided, 14. These were numbers based on both direct responses to the question, and opinions volunteered without solicitation. I took some pains to make sure that no one voted twice, but I’m not completely sure because the same person could have been on Facebook and Twitter by different names, or he/she could have had an actual-name account and also an anonymous one. The difference between the two sources – by the perspective of responses and volunteered posts — was almost nonexistent in terms of percentages of support and disapproval.

Oh, my gosh. I just added up the numbers and there were exactly 100 responses. That’s convenient. Overall, 66 percent opposed the changes, 18 percent approved and 16 percent were undecided. Surprisingly, fans on Facebook – one would think those who don’t care about NASCAR wouldn’t respond – opposed the changes in the same percentage as Twitter. Support (12.1 percent) on Facebook was considerably lower than Twitter (29.4). The chief difference in the forms of social media was that my Facebook friends were more inclined to be undecided by a margin of 21.2 to 5.9 percent.

There’s nothing scientific about this. It’s an incredibly small sample. The only reason I did it was that all I heard was word of how supportive the fans were to the changes, and I wondered what the fans who followed me thought. Maybe there was a little science. The results were slanted to people who read what I write.

Apparently, you are apart from the norm, but that’s a good thing. Me, too.

For a limited time only – the time is limited to how long it takes me to run out of T-shirts – I’ll throw in an “I Got Cash Money and I’m Workin’ Steady” shirt with every order of a signed copy of one of my two novels from this website. For ordering information, go to “Merchandise” on this site.

[cb_profit_poster Beer1]

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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29 Responses to My NASCAR Numbers

  1. Carol Dahlberg says:

    I’m a member of the Fan Council. I have not been able to locate the link to contact NASCAR to give them a piece of my mind. I think they removed it so we could not tell them how ridiculous we find this new chase format to be. Ugh!

  2. bobi says:

    I don’t use FB or Twitter so I didn’t get to vote in your poll or any other poll for that matter. Even though I hold tickets at several tracks and have for years, I’ve never been chosen to be on a fan board, council or whatever, even though I’ve applied numerous times. They always ask your age and I think I’ve been turned down because I’m too old.

    My take is that NASCAR is always chasing that which they cannot have. They long to be like the NFL. They spend endless hours trying to convince fans that they are somehow the wheeled version of football. Why can’t NASCAR just be what they are and stop trying to be something they are not? If you ask me every silly change of the last ten years make them seem ever more desperate.

    I continue to follow the sport because I like fast cars but every year they remove a little more of my enjoyment. Pretty soon I guess I’ll just give up and spend my time on other pursuits; they’ve made it clear over the years that they really don’t value me as a fan anyway.

  3. Monte says:

    What I always note is that people once flocked to NASCAR because they thought it wasn’t like other sports.

  4. Al Torney says:

    You are right on Monte.
    Now we are in a situation of it will take a few years to really see how it works out. Like the original chase, the COT, adding wild cards to the chase. An auto race is supposed to be exciting on its own merit, no gimmicks. You cannot create excitement. Brian says this will make them race harder. I’ve got news for him. Save for the underfunded teams the rest I believe are racing as hard as they can.

    I can’t even imagine how we are going to get the if the race ended now this where the points would be. In addition there will be so many scenarios for who is in, or out, during these races it will be hilarious. Especially if a back marker in 30th place in the points wins a race early in the season.

    Jimmy doesn’t get the respect he deserves now. What kind of respect will the 2014 champion get.

    I have always thought the champion should have to win at least one race. Initially I thought this new system would guarantee that. Then some one crunched the numbers and said Jr. Would have won it in 2013 without a win.

    If they want to get some semblance of legitimacy the number in the chase should float. You have to win a race to qualify, period. You may have 20 winners, or 6 winners , but that sets the field. This will create pressure to win more then any other gimmick.

    Better yet why don’t they just allow the fans to pick the field for the chase .

    I purposely do not capitalize the c in chase.

  5. Ron Fleshman says:

    Surprisingly, the journalists at the Media Tour didn’t seem too outraged, but maybe the reality of it hit them hard. I do know that I’ve yet to talk to any Joe Sixpack fan who likes it. Why? Most of them think 4 Hendrick cars or 2 Hendrick and 2 Gibbs cars will be in the final 4. Business as usual.

  6. Monte says:

    Always an honor to hear from both of you, Ron and Al.

  7. frank says:

    Question: Has anyone applied the new formula to — say — the last five years results? Who would have been the champ in 2013, 12, 111, 10, 9 based on this new way of calculating?

  8. tommy says:

    It doesn’t matter. It’s Brian France’s sandbox. The fans haven’t mattered in years.

  9. Monte says:

    Yes. You can find this information and much more at nascarnomics.com. The 2013 champ would have been Dale Earnhardt Jr., in spite of going winless.

  10. Bill B says:

    I hope Brian was paying attention last night. Even the NFL can’t script “game 7 moments”. I hope the first chase with this new system results in 3 contenders having problems early and the 4th being handed the championship by default.
    If you look up “putz” in the dictionary Brian’s picture will be there.

  11. Tony Geinzer says:

    I wonder if we had 25 Different Winners this year and all the Rookie of the Year Candidates won at least 1 Race? I wonder if that would delete the Chase faster than the shiners Brian “The Family Dog” France tried to throw at it?

  12. Dan says:

    Ever wonder why naysayers always out number folks who are okay with something in opinion polls? Anytime someone runs a poll for an opinion on something controversial, be it Nascar,NFL,Politics, etc the folks who oppose it are going to be the ones responding. That’s why their numbers are most often higher in opinion polls. I feel folks who are okay with this aren’t going to respond. So are polls such as these a fair way to gage? People are always looking for something to complain about and these polls give them there soapbox.I say give it a chance and see what happens. If it fails then complain.

  13. Bill B says:

    Dan,
    The chase has been around for 10 years. Most of us that didn’t think it was a good idea when it was first announced did give it a chance. We still don’t like it and want it abolished, not tweaked. How long were we supposed to wait before we voice our negative opinions. And another thought…. what would you prefer…. for the fans who don’t like it to keep watching and voicing their displeasure or to follow the masses that have turned their back on NASCAR.
    Part of the problem is that NASCAR continually pisses on our heads and tells us it’s raining. I remember when they tried to sell us on the COT by telling us that it would solve the aero problems. Did it? Hell know.
    That kind of blatant BS undermines credibility and pisses people off and makes them much less willing to wait and see before they complain when new BS policies are instituted. In the end, NASCAR reaps what they sow.

  14. Monte says:

    I spent half the blog explaining why I did it. I wanted to know what those who read me think. Now I know what you think.

  15. Richard R says:

    I’d been waiting for your view on this new “system”. I am still in favor of the driver with the most points, without the artificial gamesmanship, winning the championship. Easy for simpleton like me to keep track and interest.

    And if the analysis is correct that Dale Earnhardt Jr, would’ve have won the title in 2013 without winning a single race, then Nascar is disingenuous at best on the reason for the change.

    If you should get bored, try your hand at investigative reporting. Why after the MWR debacle and controversy is Martin Truex , supposedly not involved in the mess at Richmond, the only one out of the MWR stable. Me smells an odor! There must be a great story (conspiracy, dare I say) in that mess.

    Like the new look of your blog!

  16. Monte says:

    With respect, the next time I do investigative reporting, there will be a paycheck involved, and I don’t see that happening. Many thanks for your kind words.

  17. Pokey says:

    I don’t remember any FOX news poll that said Romney would win in a landslide, Monte. What gave you that idea? Stick to racing analogies. You are better at those, I says.

  18. Butch Capuano says:

    I am a short track racer (Nascar Mod Crew Chief) and a long time race fan. I began attending races at Islip Speedway at 4 years old, and I am now 55. I will watch people on roller skates if they are racing around an oval track, but I have completely lost interest in Cup racing. There has been a steady decline in both the racing, and the rules / officiating. The chase was originally enacted to bring more interest to the NASCAR season in it’s overlap with the NFL. It was also going to bring the sport more press from the traditional “stick & ball” newspapers (Example: Newsday on Long Island) Well, it has don neither. Sure, it generates more press in the media outlets that always did cover NASCAR, but that was to be expected. As someone mentioned above, they continue to tweak something that didn’t do what it was expected to do anyway. When will Brian France learn that the races are what matters. Each race is an individual entity, and if the are exciting, the casual fan will tune in again. I do not believe that the casual fan really cares about the way the Champion is determined, other than the fact that they will probably tune in to Homestead just to see what happens. To say that the drivers are not racing hard to win is utter nonsense. I could go on here, including some ideas I have to improve the sport, but there isn’t enough time or space. In closing, it is my feeling that what Brian France wants is a combination of the NFL and Professional Wrestling, and this new chase format moves the sport ever closer to his dream.

  19. Dan says:

    @Bill….I’ve been a race fan from the time my folks took me to the Saturday Nite short tracks and a Nascar fan since 1963 when I attended dDaytona.No I don’t like the “Chase” format but I don’t let that stop me from watching. I watch because I like racing. So what defines a true race fan? A person who wants to see a good race or one who wants to see who will be champion ? I used to watch for both reasons but now that Johnson and Knaus have cornered championships I could care less who the champ is. Show me a good race. This pit strategy, gas mileage, first off pit lane , etc takes away from the “stand on the gas and out drive the other guy” racing. Today’s drivers have their eyes on the “Championship” be it by choice or by team orders. Just takes so much away from the racing. We should have more racing like the Logano,Hamlin California race. Of course without the injury. Just sayin’.

  20. Robert Eastman says:

    Please explain to me (and Brain Farce) why 2014 Homestead won’t be even worse than 2013 Richmond. It seems to me that Homestead will be a 6 Million $Dollar Winner-Take-All “Demolition Derby!” With so much on the line in the final race why wouldn’t Championship Contenders’ team-mates “accidentally wreck’ the other Contenders.
    As a NASCAR “team owner” even “Gentleman Jeff Gordon” has been willing to “stoop-low” and purposely take-out the Championship Competition (Bowyer @ Phoenix -2012).
    It’s obvious… NASCAR covets the attention and adoration of Pro-Wrestlings’ fan-base!

  21. Monte says:

    I can’t explain it, Robert. I’m on your side.

  22. Monte says:

    I do remember it, obviously. I think the analogy was valid, that you’re awfully sensitive and that I’ll write what I want, as you did in your comment, which I appreciate.

  23. Roy Flewelling says:

    Monte,
    I agree with your blog and thank you for not “drinking the kool-aid” and telling us how great this is going to be as done by most media members I follow.
    I’m a long time fan of the sport and am very disappointed with the changes over the last decade.I have felt this way since the inception of the chase,but we were told then by nascar and the media how great it was going to be and take our sport to new levels,sadly that never happened.
    Yes it has created some drama (ex.2011) and closer championship finishes at times but when the dust settles it was manufactured drama.So what if some years the championship was a blowout,the racing on the track was still great and some years we did have closer battles with Tony & Mark in 02,Jeff Dale & Mark in 97,Jeff & Terry in 96,Jeff and Dale in 95,Alan Davey Bill in 92,Dale & Mark in 90 and so on.Every season back then wasn’t a nail biter but when it was it was real,not manufactured.
    One argument peole use about the sport being better these days is how many cars are on the lead lap nowadays.The stats do show that but prior to the last decade we didn’t have the lucky dog (which I agree is good for safety) or the wave around.I watched lots of races since the inception of the wave around that the leader has lapped up to 10th place and lots of times 10 or more cars take the wave around to get their lap back,especially towards the end of a race when fuel isn’t an issue I’ve seen 15,18,sometimes 20 cars take the wave around.That’s just nascar welfare,not a true indication of how many cars were on the lead lap that day.
    We went to six races per year for quite a few years,after 2004 we gave it a chance but dropped to 4 races after 06 and 2 races after 2010.Some empty seats are caused by the economy but I’m sure there are more longtime fans that vacated their seats for the same reason as we did.
    All of these changes and listening to nascar wanting to attract a new younger demographic makes folks like us feel like we don’t matter.
    Anyway rant over,thanks again Monte.

  24. Monte says:

    Thanks for writing, Roy. I’ve made the same complaints over the years. Particularly, it has always bothered me that what I call “socialized racing” isn’t ever cited when people talk about the level of competition.

  25. Wylie says:

    Sure they will be because they are the best teams,your point is what?

  26. Wylie says:

    Been a race fan my whole life some of the first memories I have are being at a race track. I’m ready to give this point system a chance. NASCAR is in trouble they have to do something. March madness is damn exciting this may help bring in a younger fan base. You lose you go home.

  27. Bill B says:

    @Dan,
    I can agree with that. The championship is hyped and spotlighted to the point where it overshadows every race. If there was a way to take the emphasis away from the championship that would be best but I don’t see that happening.
    I’d like to see the champion get a million dollar check and a trophy. Take the rest of the championship award, divide it by 36 and add it to the current amount that winning a race pays.

  28. Dan says:

    Amen to that.

  29. David says:

    So we are going to now have a system that not only makes it possible to win the championship with no wins, but make the driver with the most wins not able to compete for the championship.

    If you have three bad races in a row at the wrong time, you are out no matter how many wins you rack up.

    My prayer is Jr. wins about five races in the regular season to get in, stumbles in the first round, then wins out to finish 16th in points with 12 wins.

    Like to see Kez run good enough to get in on points, run fast enough to stay out of the bottom four, then in the last race finish second to E for the championship.

    Exciting-yes, but the excitement would be watching BZF spin it.

    Only planning on watching to see if prayers are answered.

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