Dale Earnhardt Jr Defends Ross Chastain’s Victory Amidst Debate on Declining NASCAR Viewership

Published 11/12/2023, 7:46 AM EST

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It is no secret that NASCAR has a problem with TV viewership. Over the past several years, the sport’s viewership has been on a steady decline. Nothing the organizers try seems to have a positive impact and this year was no different. These changes sometimes have the opposite impact and that was evident in one of the races in the 2023 Cup Series season. However, not all people agree with the numbers including former Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season averaged 2.86 million viewers, about 5% down from last season’s average of 3.03 million. It set an unwanted record for being the least-watched Cup Series season in the history of the sport. Viewership numbers took a serious hit post the Bristol Dirt race in April, going down by as much as 15%. Dale Jr, however, is a glass-half-full person.

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The Bristol night race being on a Saturday rather than a Sunday could have been an opportunity. Considering that most people wouldn’t have to go to work the following day, the organizers might have believed that they could draw in more viewers. But that was not the case.

The Bristol night race was the least-watched of the weekend races in the 2023 Cup Series season, managing to get only 1.56 million viewers. This was a 12% drop off from last season’s event which is far too much for anyone’s liking. Eminent NASCAR journalist Jeff Gluck shared these statistics on Twitter with a grim caption.

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“Bristol Night Race getting the least viewers of the entire season shows exactly why Saturday night races are virtually extinct. 😞” Gluck tweeted.

This drew the attention of Dale Earnhardt Jr who was completely baffled by the low viewership numbers. Junior believed that the trend was on an upward curve from what he could tell by being present at the venues.

“I’m puzzled by the TV numbers because at the track it feels like things are moving in a positive way. Feels like more fans are attending races, feels like there’s more excitement on the property about the event. And personally my own enjoyment of the races themselves feels like it’s improved,” the 49-year-old commented.

A fan replied to Junior’s comments stating that most people did not really enjoy Ross Chastain holding off Ryan Blaney for the win in Phoenix. According to them, it was racing like that which turned off fans but Dale Earnhardt Jr. disagreed.

“See,  I was entertained by all that,” he replied.

The numbers paint a gloomy picture for the future of NASCAR. The viewership difference from last year was up in only nine races in 2023, everything else had gone down. Things are starting to get quite difficult for the organizers who might be at their wits’ end.

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Viewership numbers indicate a dull future for the sport

The highest-viewed race of the year, like every other year, was the Daytona 500. However, even its viewership numbers were down by 8%. The race that suffered the most was the first Richmond race which saw a drop off of a whopping 42% from last season.

Sonoma and the first Martinsville race of the campaign saw positive numbers with spikes of 30% and 18% from last year but apart from that, there wasn’t anything very positive. The playoffs were disastrous. Only Texas managed to pull in more viewers than last year and even the championship race in Phoenix was down by 9%.

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At this point, NASCAR might be resting its hopes on Netflix to do what it did with Formula One and Drive to Survive to save the sinking viewership numbers. Will it work? Only time will tell.

Watch this story: Hamlin’s Revelation: A Twist in the 2024 Championship Tale

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

790Articles

One take at a time

Drivers these days need to be more like Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace. Well, now you know who my favorites are. For me, it all began with my interest in F1, but I was just tired of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen showing unparalleled dominance.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Ramesh

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