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Thursday, 17 April 2014 14:31

OPINION: No NASCAR on Easter weekend? Sport missing an opportunity to market lower series during rare Sprint Cup break

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Want a NASCAR fix this weekend? You’ll have to wait until next weekend then.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes its traditional off week for the Easter holiday this weekend and the lower series—the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series—are also off.

From 2004-2011 the NASCAR Nationwide Series ran on Easter Saturday at Nashville. It was a rare weekend for the Nationwide Series to be the main show. In 2010-11 the Camping World Truck Series joined the Nationwide Series for a unique doubleheader show without the top series involved.

So why did it stop? Why did NASCAR stop showcasing the lower series on a rare weekend off from Cup racing?

The parent company of the 25,000-seat facility decided that lackluster attendance was hurting the track, and decided not to host races in 2012 and beyond.

Pete Pistone of MRN.com opined earlier this week that NASCAR needs to have some kind of racing on Easter weekend, like they have in the past. It doesn’t have to be the Cup Series, and it shouldn’t be, he argues. But this is a prime weekend for NASCAR to promote the lower tier series, and the future stars of the sport.

“NASCAR should do all it can to put together an Easter weekend event next year, perhaps a Nationwide/Truck Series doubleheader (the Truck schedule needs to not have a two-month gap between the first two races of the season as well),” Pistone wrote. “Better yet make it a short-track double dip and really give NASCAR fans a holiday treat.”

The Nationwide Series—often compared to AAA baseball—has some talent in its ranks. Chase Elliott, the son of former NASCAR legend Bill, has won the past two races. He’s 18 and is considered one of the up and coming stars in the sport. Why not give him—and other young drivers like Kyle Larson, Ty Dillon, Dylan Kwasniewski and Dakoda Armstrong—a chance to show their talents on TV?

While Nashville has stopped hosting races, why not check into other facilities that are earning to host NASCAR events? Head back to the roots of the sport in the southeast to appease old-time fans of the sport. Rockingham comes to mind as a facility that would probably be a good host for a quick doubleheader of Trucks and Nationwide action

Or, as Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press mentioned in March, maybe it’s time for NASCAR to consider week night races, a topic that has been bantered about for years now. Nate Ryan of The USA Today mentioned the same thing in a Thursday morning call in to Sirius-XM’s NASCAR channel.

After Saturday’s race at Darlington the Cup Series could run a mid-week evening race and add some more off weekends throughout the schedule. The next off weekend for the Cup Series comes in July, one week before the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis.

And if you’re a NASCAR fan really yearning for on-track action there is some, but it won’t be televised. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will race at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C., on Saturday. NASCAR said in a press release to log onto NASCARHomeTracks.com for more on that race.

Adam Niemeyer

As a life-long NASCAR fan that grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I've often dreamed of covering the drivers I grew up watching on TV. In 2009 I began to do so for Cincinnati TV stations at Kentucky Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am a Mark Martin fan but cover all the fun stories from the garage area and often opine on the sport from a fan and media member's perspective.

Check out my blog at http://adamniemeyer.blogspot.com/ and follow me on Twitter: @adamniemeyer


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