If NASCAR was hoping to acquire new blood, then Daytona 500 failed miserably

If someone were on the fence about whether or not to get into NASCAR, then Sunday’s Daytona 500 race provided enough reason to hop off and not think twice about leaving the sport behind.

If you thought NASCAR was boring when it’s just cars going around a track for three hours, try watching cars go around a track for three hours while also having a 2.5-hour intermission in between. Regular NASCAR fans could appreciate the racing that went on in between workers trying to fix a pothole on Turn 2 at the Daytona International Speedway yesterday, but if the sport was hoping to pick up new viewers then the “Super Bowl of racing” failed to deliver.

The Daytona 500 is regarded as NASCAR’s premier event. It’s the one race that is supposed to attract even the causal racing fan and considering it doesn’t have to compete against football for television viewers, it should be enough to attract new blood to the sport too.

But even the staunchest NASCAR fan would have to admit that Sunday’s Daytona 500 was a buzzkill. It should have been a monumental day for the race, with 21 different leaders (most ever at Daytona), 52 lead changes (third most at Daytona), and a winner in Jamie McMurray that led for only two laps (the fewest ever by a Daytona 500 winner). But with 80 laps remaining, a pothole emerged on the track causing two red flags to come out and 144 minutes of down time. A pothole killed an otherwise thrilling day of racing.

NASCAR remains one of those sports where you either love it or hate it. You have to go at least once to appreciate the noise and speed, but to actually get into the season and watch on a weekly basis NASCAR needs more action than what it got on Sunday. Granted, it was nobody’s fault that the track fell apart, although maybe somebody should have thought about repaving the damn thing after not doing so over the past 30 years. But if the Daytona 500 is the best NASCAR has to offer, then why would the semi-interested fan tune in next week?

True racing fans will always appreciate what the sport brings to the table – potholes or no potholes. But after yesterday, Joe Sports Fan probably won’t cry himself to sleep if he misses next weekend’s NASCAR event because the Daytona 500 probably did little to compel him.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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