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NASCAR taking steps to keep its core fans happy
NASCAR research and development usually focuses on minute technical details such as gear ratios and air displacement. Last winter, one topic was fan displacement.

The racing giant took note of increasing numbers of empty seats and declining television ratings during the 2006 and '07 Cup seasons. It determined its most ardent supporters were watching six fewer minutes of the races. Research also showed those fans were attending half as many races as they used to – an average of three to five as opposed to six to 10.

NASCAR has addressed what it considers erosion to its foundation, the core fans who have followed the sport for years – long before there was a Chase, a Texas Motor Speedway, a Car of Tomorrow or a Toyota parked in Victory Lane.

That doesn't mean going back to abandoned tracks such as Rockingham or North Wilkesboro. But NASCAR chairman Brian France and several NASCAR executives talked with track presidents to get an idea of how to better serve the loyal fans.

The sanctioning body has a new marketing campaign, "Our NASCAR," designed to thank fans, especially the longtime fans, and remind them why the sport means so much to them.

It also has loosened rules pertaining to driver conduct and has done an about-face with tangential issues such as race day entertainment.

"NASCAR is different from other sports in that most people don't grow up competing in it like baseball or football," said Mike Helton, NASCAR's president. "So NASCAR fans must spend more time to understand the nuances and strategy of the sport.

"That commitment and understanding translates into fans with deep roots in the sport – they're the so-called 'core fans.' We have a tremendous respect for these most dedicated fans who represent such a big part of 'NASCAR Nation.' " More at Dallas Morning News

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