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“Ratings Were Down, Attendance Was Down”: NASCAR President Details “Foolish” Promises Made During Dark Period In The Sport

Published 12/26/2022, 9:15 AM EST

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The NASCAR community is pretty torn about their stance on road courses in stock car racing. Unfortunately, there are more fans who are against road courses than those who enjoy them. Yet, NASCAR President Steve Phelps is ardent about bringing the Chicago Street race.

In fact, he emphasized the importance of it.


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Road courses like the Watkins Glen, Charlotte Oval, and others have been on the NASCAR calendar for some time now. And not with much love from fans and drivers alike. But we can’t deny the importance of bringing an occasional right turn in the rather left-turn-heavy sport. And that importance, coupled with the growing fame of Formula 1, has compelled the sport to introduce its first-ever street race.

And NASCAR President, Steve Phelps believes, “It’s all important,”. He further adds by claiming that what they do is entirely for the fans, “What we do for our sport to bring those story lines to life, to our race fans, is important.” As SpeedSport quoted him. However, there’s a bigger, more important reason here.

Phelps then talked about the poor state of NASCAR when he became the President. “When I took over this role, we were a sport that frankly was struggling. Our ratings were down; our attendance was down. There weren’t a lot of bright spots.”

Of course, he did what he had to, despite the fans’ criticism, and came out on the better end. “But I stood in front of you and talked about our best days being in front of us. I know that seemed kind of foolish. Maybe some of you were snickering, like, ‘I’m not sure that’s going to happen.’ But where we sit here today, I think that’s exactly what’s happened.”


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Chicago is the perfect place for the first street race of NASCAR

NASCAR introduced the Clash at the Coliseum in L.A. to commence the 2022 season. A very controversial decision, especially since it dethroned the Daytona 500‘s role to start the season. Fortunately, the sport proved everyone wrong as the race turned out to be a great start to the 2022 season.


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And Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing development and strategy, believes Chicago will be a success too. In fact, he went as far as to say, “This is the ideal setting for the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race.”


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Kennedy further added in a conversation with NBC Sports, “The NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars and the IMSA machines will race along the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago, marking a truly historic moment for our sport.” 


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Chicago will mark the first official street race in NASCAR. But considering the criticism toward road courses, the street race might be a challenge for the fans to accept so easily. But what do you think? Will Chicago be a major success? Or an over-hyped bust? Let us know in the comments.



Hetul Katyal

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Hetul Katyal is a NASCAR and F1 Writer at Essentially Sports. Currently pursuing his degree in Journalism from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. When the Stock Cars rev up, you can find him cheering Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, in hopes of seeing one of them drive to the Victory Lane.

Edited By: Akash Pandhare