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April 16, 2014

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How far will NASCAR stray from its roots?

The most common theme running through a lot of the comments posted on my blog and others is the criticism that NASCAR continues to stray from its roots. When fans complain about the COT, Madison Avenue-managed drivers or the relentless commercialization of the sport, they really seem to be saying that they don’t relate as much to the sport as they used too.

NASCAR has created a difficult balancing act for itself as it maps out how to make the sport more popular. NASCAR wants to attract new fans, but the path toward that goal conflicts with the core fans’ desire to see the sport maintain its old-school appeal. Changing in order to grow without crushing what brought fans to the sport in the first place is like playing with a Rubik’s Cube.

Closer racing, fewer cookie-cutter style tracks and a few rivalries might help retain fans. The introduction of Danica Patrick, if she has some success, will bring more eyes to the sport.

In today’s edition of The New York Timesthere is an interesting story by Dave Caldwell on how NASCAR has strayed from its roots since the death of Dale Earnhardt. I wonder what Dale would say about today’s NASCAR?

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