The 2015 NASCAR Cup season is over and done. Did it rise to level of excellence, no. Did it rise to level of acceptance, yes. The television ratings were down again, but not in a dramatic way, the hemorrhaging has stopped and it’s down to a trickle. That’s actually progress.
2016 will start without Jeff Gordon who gave us the modern era of top notch drivers and competition. That’s a shame, but that’s progress. We move on.
What will 2016 look like given the path laid out for the competitors to win a championship? The first thing that comes to mind is that the teams will become more savvy with how to run their in-season strategy coupled with a flow through plan for getting through each level to the final race.
The Low Down-Force cars should be a learning and driving experience for the competitors as it will more clearly define who are the real wheelmen. It may give those on lesser teams a greater chance to show their skill as aero won’t be a crutch that the teams can lean on.
Don’t get me wrong, every team will take the low down-force cars and try to wring every bit of aero out of them that they can, not to mention the mechanical grip and integration of all of these into a cohesive chassis.
We shouldn’t expect a miraculous change in the drivers we know are highly skilled such as Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson. Kurt Busch and many others. They are what they are, great drivers and inveterate competitors.
As for the Chase format, it’s time to quit worrying that it seems false, it isn’t. It belongs to NASCAR, they make the rules and you can either play by them or go elsewhere. It’s up to the teams to decide if they want to compete.
I see it as no different than the NFL. The very best team doesn’t always get to the Super Bowl.
We have to realize that in the grand scheme of the sport we call auro racing, NASCAR is still the 800 lb, gorilla in the United States and will remain so for the foreseeable future. IndyCar has raised it’s game, to be sure, but it isn’t going regain the luster it once had.
NASCAR will still be America’s choice for motorsports and 2016 seems to great promise in it’s ability to deliver a very competitive and exciting product.
We may be past the days of 100,00 people in the stands, but that’s a sign of the times. People want their leisure activity on-demand and they have many choices. NASCAR will have to continue it’s digital battle to capture new fans and retain the ones they currently enjoy.
Expect to see the usual suspects fighting it out, but expect to see a more entertaining battle.