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What Do NASCAR Fans Think About the Current Racing Product?

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Whether or not NASCAR fans enjoy the racing product is a simple yes or no question that is at times hard to answer. Different fans enjoy different types of racing, and what one may think is a good race may not be a good race to another.

Jeff Gluck’s “Was it a good race?” poll has offered some hard data on how NASCAR fans feel about the racing product. Let’s take a look at this poll to answer the question about how NASCAR fans feel about the racing product.

Overall

The Jeff Gluck poll runs from 2016 until 2023, so that is the sample size we have to work with. 2016 through 2021 was with the Gen-6 car, while 2022 and 2023 is with the Next-Gen car.

What is the trend? The general trend shows that NASCAR fans are rating more races at or above an 80% with a Next-Gen car, while about the same amount of races are being rated at or below a 50%.

From 2016 until 2021, an average of 8.8 out of 38 races scored at or below a 50%. During that time frame, an average of 18 races per year scored between 51 and 79%, while an average of 11.2 races scored at or above an 80%.

This shows where we can make a general split in these. ratings. Races with less than 50% will be considered as bad in this poll, 51-79% will be considered between average to good, and 80% will be considered a great race.

How does the Next-Gen compare based on season and a half’s worth of sample size? The current pace is an average of 9 races at or below a 50%, 14 races at or above an 80%, and 15 races between 51-79%. A slight increase in the spectacular bracket, but the same in the bad bracket.

Generally speaking, it seems that NASCAR fans tend to like the Next-Gen product slightly more overall than the Gen-6 product. How about the Next-Gen on specific race tracks? Here are the averages of the Next-Gen car to base these numbers on to see how they perform.

  • 23.6% of races below a 50% (Bad)
  • 36.8% of Races Above an 80% (Great)
  • 39.5% of races between 51-79% (Average/Good)

Road Courses

The race at Sonoma last weekend opened up the case about NASCAR on road courses. Does NASCAR go to too many? Well, here is how the fans feel about the Next-Gen road course product based on this poll.

  • 37.5% of races below a 50% (Bad)
  • 25% of races Above an 80% (Great)
  • 37.5% of races between 51-79% (Average/Good)

Based on current Next-Gen trends, road course races have a higher proportion of races being rated as not great by the NASCAR-watching populous. This goes with the general trend that the road course racing product has suffered, but it also does show that most road course races have still tended to be varying levels of good or decent.

Short Tracks

Short tracks have received the most scrutiny for the Next-Gen car’s performance. How have fans reacted to the Next-Gen short track races in this poll?

  • 30% of races below a 50% (Bad)
  • 20% of races above an 80% (Great)
  • 50% of races between 51-79% (Average/Good)

Again, we see the trend that less races than average have been considered great on short tracks. The vast majority of races have still been in that “average” bracket, but, that is still not how the Next-Gen car has generally performed overall. Overall, the reaction to Next-Gen races on short based on this poll has not been great.

Intermediates

Now, where have most of the positive reviews come from? The Next-Gen car has been praised for how it races on intermediates, so what does this polls results show. For context, I am including tracks like Michigan and Auto Club in the intermediate category.

  • 11.8% of races below 50% (Bad)
  • 76.5% of races above an 80% (Great)
  • 11.8% of races Between 51-79% (Average/Good)

The vast majority of intermediate track races have been heralded as great by NASCAR fans. This is completely out of the normal distribution.

Could it be theorized that because of how good the product is on intermediates that a “average” race does not seem as good to fans by comparison? Maybe there is some truth to that, but what cannot be disputed is how much the intermediate track product has been enjoyed by fans. Three quarters of the races have been polled as great races.

Superspeedways

How about NASCAR on superspeedways? The Next-Gen product on Superspeedways has seemingly received mixed reviews from fans, and here is now the polls performed.

  • 0% of races below a 50% (Bad)
  • 42.9% of races above 80% (Great)
  • 57.1% of races between 51-79% (Average/Good)

Not a single races has scored below a 50% on this poll. This is not surprising as superspeedway races tend to be exciting. However, it does show that the Next-Gen product generally tends to put together a solid product on superspeedways even if it is a bit more hit-or-miss than intermediates.

Conclusion

Ultimately, this does give some data to how NASCAR fans feel about the racing product rather than just scrolling through Twitter. Sure this poll is not a perfect representation of the NASCAR fanbase, but it does show that NASCAR’s product is buy-and-large well-received. As much as NASCAR fans tend to rightfully complain, they also show appreciation as well, and this poll reflects that.

Overall, it seems that NASCAR fans like the Next-Gen product overall slightly more than the Gen-6 product. However, it’s obviously not a perfect product.

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Joshua Lipowski

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