My 2019 NASCAR Wish List

  1. ec57a784-cbab-44ec-9f63-bfe05936ade9-17815-00000e2839d9c4bcStabilized TV Ratings: The NASCAR TV ratings have been in an absolute free fall since 2017 with 2018 bringing countless all-time lows in TV viewership, including the Daytona 500 which scored a 5.3 rating and 9.3 million viewers. Nothing more in the sport seems to draw more negative press than the abysmal ratings from week to week and he empty grandstands. The entire season averaged 3.3 million viewers across Fox Sports and NBC, easily tops in American Motorsports TV coverage but far from where it was at its peak in the mid 2000’s. Yes, the free fall can be blamed on Dale Jr. and other big names retiring but overall it shows that NASCAR fans have lost interest and become disgruntled in a sport that has seen constant rules changes going back to 2004. Hell, even I (HUGE NASCAR fan, obviously) still get confused from time to time on the damn playoffs points system, however, I do believe that it is the best implementation of the NASCAR postseason so far, but that’s for another post. Going back to my hopes for the 2019 ratings, I believe that NASCAR will finally see stabilized ratings and if there are drops, they’ll be very small compared to the record setting drops of 2018. I’m looking for the Daytona 500 to start of the season with positive news with an increase in ratings, as I believe that the 2018 ratings were just a fluke. Yes, a drop from the 2017 edition was inevitable but it didn’t help the fact that the race was facing direct competition with NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage. For comparison, the 2017 race earned a 6.6 rating and 11.9 million viewers. You don’t just drop 1.5 points and 2.6 million viewers in a single year without some circumstances. At this point, NASCAR has nowhere to go but up in the TV ratings and hopefully that’s what happens, even if just by the smallest of numbers.
  2. The New Rules Package Delivers: There is nothing more important than having a stellar racing product on the track as that is why most people tune in, and NASCAR hopes that its radical news rules package for intermediate racetracks delivers. Though NASCAR has come out and stated that pack racing isn’t what they’re aiming for with the new rules, look for the leader getting 5 second leads become a thing of the past. The last thing that NASCAR needs right now is a rules package that completely fails and turns the NASCAR fan base off even more. I’m no expert but I do expect closer racing at the 1.5 and 2.0 mile racetracks. The 2018 All-Star Race that previewed an early version of this package did deliver more competitive racing but at a much slower speed than what fans are used to seeing. 400 HP is what the drivers had that weekend, NASCAR has increased that to 550 HP for 2019, allowing the drivers more throttle response and hopefully even closer racing.
  3. Momentum into the 2020 NASCAR Season: No doubt, there is much anticipation for what NASCAR is going to announce for the 2020 season (new/returning tracks, revamped schedule and other surprises) and there would be nothing better than positive momentum for the sport heading into an incredibly important year. For 2020, we already had news that the Nashville Fairgrounds is seriously considering a return to the NASCAR schedule, much to the positivity of the fans clamoring for more short tracks in order to embrace the roots of the sport. This is exactly the kind of news that NASCAR needs to steadily release (shoot, even “leak”) to build excitement and anticipation for the most important year in the modern NASCAR era. Rivalries, great racing, great finishes and a hotly contested title (with new Most Popular Driver, Chase Elliott as champion) would be so good for a sport desperate for positive attention going into 2020. NASCAR needs to set the stage for its future with an unforgettable season. Obviously simpler said than done but all of the ingredients are there for this to happen.
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RPM Reaches Sponsorship Deal With World Wide Technology to Support Darrell Wallace Jr. Into the 2019 Season

Welcome, N.C. – December 20, 2018 – World Wide Technology (WWT), a market-leading technology solution provider, and Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) announced today an extension of their official partnership that began in 2018 naming WWT the Technology and Analytics Partner of RPM.

As part of the extension, WWT continues to be a primary sponsor of the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team and will be a major associate sponsor throughout the 2019 season. In addition, WWT will continue to provide RPM with data analytics, consulting and technology solutions. This past season, WWT embedded a team of its data scientists within the organization to analyze information to optimize the team’s performance on the track. The result was a one-of-a-kind, proprietary dashboard used late in the season by the team. Showcasing improvements early on, initial results included a seven percent increase in Average Running Position, a 10 percent increase in Average Finish, and improved strategy decision-making by the crew chief and race engineers. Additionally, the dashboard featured artificial intelligence (AI) for visual data classification and combined more than five data sources onto one screen for improved data visualization, allowing for better performance comparison (e.g., tracking speed against the other cars).

WWT and RPM will continue to develop this and other technology solutions in 2019 to compete and win on the track. New features in 2019 will include the addition of deeper analytics functionality to the application, expanded AI to gather and analyze visual data, and predictive analytics for race strategy.

“Our partnership with WWT allows us to use our own data in a way that is most useful for us,” stated driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. “This isn’t something that is shared, but rather data that Drew (Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer) and our engineers now use during the race weekend and the actual race itself. This season was just the beginning for WWT, and I think we are just scratching the surface of their capabilities. They are also giving us the sponsorship that we need to be better on the track– that’s something that we’re all looking forward to. They are a great company and I’m looking forward to working with WWT more in 2019.”

WWT will sponsor Wallace Jr. for multiple races in 2019 with the number of races and race dates to be announced at a later time. The No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and team will bear the WWT branding and Silicon Valley in St. Louis message.

“In a short time, we’ve seen the immediate impact World Wide Technology can make on our race program with their big data analytics,” said Brian Moffitt, chief executive officer, Richard Petty Motorsports. “Their continued partnership will have a significant impact on the performance of our race team through data analytics, application enhancements and creation of proprietary performance focused applications. We are fortunate to have WWT as a partner and they are committed to making Bubba and the No. 43 team a winner.”

“Our team at World Wide Technology is dedicated to making Wallace Jr. a winner with Richard Petty Motorsports,” said Matt Horner, senior vice president of global enterprise sales. “The partnership has energized our team to build programs that will help the team get an advantage utilizing our technology solutions. We’ve started that and now we want to continue to build and introduce new technology with the team in 2019. We’re looking forward to a great season in 2019 with Richard Petty Motorsports.”

WWT helps organizations across a wide range of industries to survive and thrive the digital disruption that surrounds them. WWT’s innovative ecosystem, known as the Advanced Technology Center (ATC), brings together hundreds of technology companies, from Silicon Valley heavyweights to emerging tech players, to test out and integrate technology solutions for customers – cutting technology evaluation from months to weeks, sometimes days, and producing game-changing results. WWT complements the ATC with 500 agile application developers who build digital experiences for customers, as well as big data solutions, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence that help customers turn data into business value.

Dale Jarrett, Ned Jarrett and the 2000 Daytona 500

Dale Jarrett takes the yellow and checkered flags for his
third and final Daytona 500 victory.

The 2000 Daytona 500, the first NASCAR race of the new millennium and of the 2000’s decade, and CBS’ last time covering the Daytona 500, is infamously known as the “Single-file 500”. The race featured only 9 lead changes (only four of which took place on the actual racetrack) and a race dominated by the Fords of Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace. Johnny Benson eventually made things interesting in the final 50 laps of the race by pitting for only two tires after a caution and gaining the lead on the restart, only to be passed by Dale Jarrett on the final restart of the race with less than 10 laps to go. Dale Jarrett would go on to win his third and final Daytona 500 in just a span of 7 years. 

As NASCAR fans know, his father Ned Jarrett (former NASCAR driver himself and then turned CBS commentator) called his son to the finish of his prior two Daytona 500 victories in 1993 and 1996, beating out Dale Earnhardt Sr. both times. In the 2000 edition of the race, it looked like Ned Jarrett was going to have that same joyous moment yet again by calling his son’s final Daytona 500 victory. Unfortunately, the race ended under caution after Jimmy Spencer hit the wall on lap 199, taking away Ned’s opportunity of calling the finish.

I have always wondered, did CBS plan to have Ned Jarrett call yet another memorable finish to the Daytona 500? I tweeted out to Mike Joy (CBS and FOX Sports lead NASCAR commentator) earlier today and he was generous enough to give an answer:

Now, that answer isn’t exactly clear whether or not that was the definite plan by the CBS director, but more than likely had history played out a little differently that day, Ned Jarrett likely would have called his son to his third Daytona 500 victory and marked a memorable sign-off for CBS’ Daytona 500 coverage that lasted from 1979 through 2000.

eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series to Celebrate its 10th Season in 2019

As NASCAR continues it’s foray into the eSports world, it’s longest running virtual series will celebrate its 10th season in 2019:

Bedford, MA (December 17, 2018) – NASCAR and iRacing will celebrate the 10th season of the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series in 2019.  The series, NASCAR’s only officially sanctioned esports series, is increasing its prize pool to $100,000, the highest in series history. 

“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to increase the prize pool to $100,000,” said Anthony Gardner, President, iRacing.com. “Working closely with NASCAR, as well as a great partner like PEAK Antifreeze, we have been able to elevate the series to a whole new level.”

The eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series is the longest running official esports racing series. The updated prize pool represents more than a 500% increase from the previous year, making it one of the richest payouts in esports racing competition. 

The 2019 season kicks off on February 12 at Daytona International Speedway and runs through October with the series champion receiving his or her championship trophy and check on stage during pre-race ceremonies at the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to celebrate the 10th season of the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series with our partners at NASCAR and iRacing,” said Bryan Emrich, Chief Marketing Officer for Old World Industries. “We have a storied history in motorsports and over the past five years as title sponsor we have authentically engaged and connected with racing enthusiasts competing at the highest level of sim-racing. This is a great way to build upon our official global Antifreeze partnership with NASCAR and our entitlement of the PEAK Mexico NASCAR Series.” 

NASCARs commitment to the series is stronger than ever with Jusan Hamilton recently being named Series Director for the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series and the eNASCAR Ignite Series. Hamilton brings years of racing operations experience and is well placed to integrate the series even more within the NASCAR framework. 

“NASCAR is putting a strong emphasis on esports and the increased prize money demonstrates how committed we are to the series,” added Jusan Hamilton, NASCAR and Series Director of eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series. “The competition has continued to improve each of the past nine seasons and we expect the incentive to win a championship will be at an all-time high. I believe this will be the most competitive season in series history.”

All 18 rounds of the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series will be broadcast live on the iRacing eSports Network (www.youtube.com/iracing-esports-network) as well as on www.iRacing.com and www.nascar.com.

About iRacing.com

The world leader in the online racing simulation and gaming market, iRacing was founded in 2004 by Dave Kaemmer and John Henry. Kaemmer was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including “Grand Prix Legends” and NASCAR 2003.” Henry is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club, as well as co-owner of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing. iRacing.com has developed dozens of formal partnerships in the motorsport industry to help create the most authentic racing simulation in the world including with NASCAR, IndyCar, International Speedway Corporation, Speedway Motorsports, IMSA, Mazda Motorsports, McLaren Racing, Williams F1, Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, the World of Outlaws, the United States Auto Club and General Motors.

Richard Childress Racing Reveals 50th Anniversary Golden Paint Schemes, Set to Run in the Daytona 500

A very classy decision by RCR to honor Dale Earnhardt Sr. with a classic paint scheme that was originally ran in the 1998 All-Star Race. Take a look below:

The 61st Daytona 500 is just over two months away and it’ll be here before we know it.

Breaking: NBC Sports Signs Multi-Year Deal with the Monster Energy Supercross Series Beginning in 2019

Adam Stern of the SportsBusiness Journal broke the news just minutes ago via his Twitter account:

As Adam Stern reported, NBC Sports is now home to multiple of the biggest American Motorsports properties. With all of these different racing offerings, one has to wonder if NBC will eventually launch a Motorsports only channel, a throwback to the SPEED channel, for example. At a time when Motorsports seems to be losing its appeal to audiences abroad and especially within the youth demographic, NBC seems to be taking it head-on and making motor racing a huge part of its portfolio.

The first Supercross event of the season kicks off on January 5th on NBCSN.

NASCAR Releases 2019 Media Day Information

2019 Media Day will take place on Wednesday, February 13 and run from 7:30 AM EST to 4:00 PM EST in advance of the 61st annual DAYTONA 500. Media rotations will include Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.  TV coverage is usually carried on the FOX Sports and NBC Sports Networks along with plenty of line coverage. More detailed coverage information will be released closer to the event. The DAYTONA 500 will run on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET (FOX, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).