Steve Phelps Makes Big Claims in the Favour of NASCAR’s Growth

Published 11/06/2021, 7:22 AM EDT

NASCAR has been arguably the stable of American Sports since the 1950s. Yet in recent years, the sport has lost both sponsors and audiences with alarm bells ringing in 2017. But NASCAR President Steve Phelps has some good news.


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In his first state-of-the-sport press conference, Phelps made several claims of confidence in NASCAR’s growth and where it stands compared to other sports.

“We are the most stable sport on television since 2018,” he said.


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No other sport—none—can match what NASCAR has done from a stability standpoint with our ratings.”

He claimed the share numbers for their top-tier Cup Series are up by 18% since 2019, and they are up by 25-30% in the Xfinity & Camping Truck Series, which is hard to do in current circumstances.

Steve Phelps’ claims are a sigh of relief

The President’s statements should come as a relief to all the NASCAR community. The sport, which is now back on the rise, saw itself falling since its high in 2005.

In 2017, Wall Street Journal reported that NASCAR’s TV viewership was down by 45%.

This resulted from the efforts NASCAR took to boost its viewership by abandoning iconic circuits like Darlington and moving to newer ones in a bid to attract a newer audience. The schedule reforms proved to be counterproductive, and the league started losing sponsors and audiences progressively.

But when Steve Phelps took over as the president in 2018, his first priority was to save NASCAR from falling into irrecoverable depths.

And that’s what he did.

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 14: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford, lead the field to the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2018 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Phelps believes that the reason for the upward trend and growth in their viewership is schedule variation.

He credits Ben Kennedy, the senior vice president of strategy and innovation, for coming up with the most aggressive schedule the sport has seen in over 50 years.

The start of a new lap led by Phelps in 2022

With the 2022 season, NASCAR will introduce the next-gen car. Although the car had some issues, Phelps reassured that with rigorous testing, he’s confident the car has no problems ahead of its debut at L.A. Coliseum in 2022.


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In a future where regulations are getting increasingly demanding and the viewers have more options in form of Formula 1, IndyCar, whether NASCAR survives, flourishes or slumps, is worth watching.

All of these are still possibilities, but Steve Phelps knows that a bright future begins with optimistic thoughts and he’s the one to lead NASCAR into a new, bright era.


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“We are having a moment as a sport. It’s important we keep it going.”

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Shaharyar is a Formula 1 & NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A Graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for the better part of the decade. A Max Verstappen and Ferrari supporter, he dreams of a pairing of the two in the future.