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SBD/February 24, 2012/NASCAR Season Preview
NASCAR Begins Season With Sport Under Green Flag Of Optimism
Published February 24, 2012
SURVEY SAYS...: In N.Y., Ken Belson notes NASCAR “interviewed nearly 40 of its executives and 151 industry stakeholders, including drivers, race teams and sponsors” to review how the sport “communicates with fans new and old.” More than “1,000 casual and avid fans completed online surveys,” and news media coverage of NASCAR during the past decade “was analyzed to see how it could be improved.” NASCAR Senior VP & CMO Steve Phelps said, “The media landscape has changed so much and we were slow to change to it.” After spending “more than $5 million on the research, NASCAR spent millions more buying back its digital rights in 2013 from Turner, which had paid NASCAR a fee to run its Web site.” NASCAR also hired “nine new staff members, in part to help market to Hispanic, urban and young fans.” Drivers were also “encouraged to use Twitter and Facebook to communicate.” Phelps “commissioned an ethnographic study that gauged how fans navigate racetracks” to attract new fans (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24).
CHANGING OF THE GUARD? SI’s Jeffery Salter writes Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch are poised to “dominate the sports in the coming years the way” Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson have “for much of the last decade.” Fox’ Darrell Waltrip said, “A changing of the guard in NASCAR is coming. Historically when the establishment gets firmly established in NASCAR, they’ll look in their rearview mirror and see a bunch of younger guys coming fast. We’re at that transition point right now” (SI, 2/27 issue). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Hart wrote to say Dale Earnhardt Jr. “winning, even once, would benefit NASCAR and everything involved with it -- TV ratings, ticket sales, Internet clicks, etc. -- would be to beat a dead horse that’s been beaten and dead for a few years.” His popularity “hasn’t waned much, which is a credit to him,” but it remains a “small consolation when the business at hand is winning races, something he hasn’t done in more than 1,300 days and counting.” Earnhardt Jr. on Wednesday said, “I just want to win -- anywhere. I just want to go ahead and get that done so I can think about the next one and get this streak over with” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/22).