The casual fan and the newly curious are precisely the demographics NASCAR's marketing moguls are after. The Chase was conceived largely to wrest new audiences away from the baseball playoffs and football in the fall.
All of NASCAR's boom of the past decade, and all its marketing hopes for the future, hang on attracting new, more sophisticated, more mainstream audiences.
Yet in a pinch, NASCAR falls back on hard-core fans to understand that sudden rule changes - without warning, not just in midseason but in mid-playoffs and indeed mid-race weekend - are par for NASCAR's history.
NASCAR officials were drunk on Milwaukee's Best Light when they thought their point race could compete with Baseball or Football, if those sports were reasonably healthy.
NASCAR boomed just about the same time that baseball was wracked with steroid scandals, and assorted smaller scandals (including a tied All-Star Game! the horrors!) and when the NFL was also showing itself to have a more Byzantine rule structure than "memento". Strikes galore in the big 4 sports in the past decade, during which NASCAR enjoyed their demographic boom. Some of that audience, as I said earlier, was based on people uncomfy with the new "in your face urban" demographic of those sports. But also, hockey, basketball, and baseball all took some time off in the past decade, and you have to imagine that NASCAR gained some audience from the guys who would watch bowling if it was still aired on Sunday afternoons. Those were the fans who eventually would return to their real sports once they had recovered from their Fan Anger (Fan Anger usually lasts no longer than one season). There are simply folks who will watch anything if it has a hint of competitiveness in it (I say this as someone who has a top 5 of Poker Pros, and a top 2 of Darts Throwing, so I don't cast judgement when I say that. Hell, I've watched Duckpin Bowling on TV).
My point (I have one! Maybe 2!) is that NASCAR grossly overestimated their ability to capture "sophisticated" viewers, because the people who market that so-called "sport" think that it is compelling to watch. It isn't. It's incredibly boring to watch.
Second, as we discussed the factors for why NASCAR hasn't broken through, and we discussed the factor of the ever-present Confederate Flag. You'll notice, in this analysis of the state of NASCAR, that doesn't get mentioned once. It's about restrictor plates, and a schizophrenia about whether to reach out to college professors who would love NASCAR if they gave it a chance, and keeping the hard-core fan base.
It seems clear in this instance that our writer has failed to acknowledge that the perception that NASCAR is a place for Drunken White Hicks who want to See Them Cars Blow Up Real Good is fairly accurate. It is certainly a perception that is not helped by the fact that the Confederate Flag flies over the racetracks (or the fact that Cars That Blow Up Real Good is the main reason that most people watch NASCAR).