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Empty Seats at the Nationwide Race in Chicago Look Bad for the Sport
Nationwide crowd looked bad in Chicago Sunday.  This is what IndyCar does all the time to its image when it races in front of massive grandstands that are near empty, i.e. they make themselves look like a loser.  You only get one chance to make a good first impression.
CIA Stock Photo
No matter how good or bad the racing in Sunday’s STP 300 Nationwide Series event at the Chicagoland Speedway might have been(and it was pretty good overall), the overpowering image left in the minds of many is that of vastly empty grandstands shown by ESPN’s television cameras. This “stand alone” race on a track that also hosts a Sprint Cup event and is not located within NASCAR’s traditional market place provides a setup for an embarrassingly low turnout, and that’s exactly what the race provided.

On many occasions, I have used this website to profess my belief that the Nationwide Series should indeed have more stand alone events. However, this type of situation is not what I mean at all.

Tracks not on the Sprint Cup schedule in which a Nationwide race would be the highlight of their season should be the type of facilities this series would be better served to run. The Iowa Speedway provides an excellent example of this idea. The Kentucky Speedway used to have great crowds for its stand alone Nationwide races before it received a Sprint Cup date.

Granted, even with scores of empty seats, there may have been more folks in attendance at the Joliet, Illinois track on Sunday than might have been in a packed facility such as Hickory, North Wilkesboro or the Nashville Fairgrounds. But even if that is true, full grandstands simply look better than empty ones.

And it isn’t just the stand alone races on Sprint Cup tracks that create a bad image for the sport’s “second series”. Next weekend in Indianapolis will again illustrate the problem of seats not being filled with spectators for the Nationwide Series.

On the weekend of the Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Nationwide Series used to compete at the nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park(now known as Lucas Oil Raceway). Last year’s inaugural run for the second series at IMS played out in front of vast numbers of empty seats in the storied track’s massive grandstand where LOR Nationwide races ran in front of packed bleachers. RacingWithRich.com

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