Dale Jr. hammers NASCAR
Dale Earnhardt Jr. went from race car driver to philosopher Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. And in the process, stock car racing's favorite son likely ruffled quite a few feathers in NASCAR's front office.
|Dale Jr. tears apart NASCAR|
In one of his most poignant interviews ever, Earnhardt confirmed what a lot of people – most notably disenchanted or former NASCAR fans – have been thinking for a long time.
Namely, NASCAR has grown too big, the season is too long and the watered-down result, particularly the Chase for the Sprint Cup, is hurting the sport dramatically, with potentially even more damage to come as the world remains in economic crisis.
With rumors swirling that current Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series teams will lay off close to 1,000 employees at season's end, as well as reports that several teams across the sport's top three series are likely to close their doors or merge with others, this is one of the most challenging times NASCAR has ever faced. In a year that the sanctioning body was supposed to get back to its roots, it may be time for NASCAR to take an even longer, harder look at itself, Earnhardt said.
Foremost in his mind: the length of the season.
"We have saturated the market with race after race after race," Earnhardt said. "The NFL, they do such a great job. I hate to keep comparing to them and using them as examples, but they do the best job.
"They give you just enough to keep you wanting more. The season ends before you want it to. You get just enough to get excited and then it's all over and there's such a long wait. The model works."
[Editor's Note: The greedy France family will never reduce the number of races run at their tracks, that is how they make the majority of the money. This greed is leading to the downfall of NASCAR. Don't order the flowers or plan the funeral just yet, but Americans are increasingly become disenchanted with NASCAR's bloat, high costs and 1950s technology in its new Car of Yesterday.]
With expansion both geographically and event-wise, the bloated NASCAR schedule has, in effect, become a victim of its own success.
"We have basically a very similar reaction that baseball, hockey, a lot of other sports do that have long enduring seasons," Earnhardt said. "There's lulls and inactivity between the fan and the sport itself at times. There's no way to fix that."
But perhaps Earnhardt's most pointed comment was a swipe at what could be construed as greed and excess, not only by the sanctioning body, but drivers, team owners and practically everyone associated with the sport.
"We're driven by the ability to go make another dollar and make more money and there's no way we would ever trim it down," Earnhardt said with a shrug. "When we were a 28-race schedule, the sport was giving you just enough to get really get excited about the next season.
"When we were racing at 12 o'clock, people were racing home from church to get to see the start of the race. We've just made it too easy and too much. We sort of lost a lot of the substance that we really had before and the character of the sport I think has waned a little bit, but its part of the times, too."
Even though it would mean a significant drop in revenue, Earnhardt would love to see NASCAR scale back. But he isn't holding his breath it'll happen any time soon.
"I don't think NASCAR's current problems are all our fault," he said. "I think it has a lot to do with a lot of other things going on, like the temperature of the world out there and the economy.
"I think the model that the NFL has is the perfect one and I feel like that's really our best bet for the most amount of success and to maintain it I think also that's the best way."
Unfortunately, Earnhardt said, NASCAR has already passed the point of no return.
"No way we would ever trim the schedule back," he said. "There's no way we would change what we really already have here." More at Yahoo Sports