What’s Going On With NASCAR This Year?
If you’re out of the loop with what’s been going on with NASCAR in 2021, you’re certainly not alone. The octane-packed series has seen its fanbase shrink and ratings decline consistently due to a lack of any exciting changes. Not to mention the full-blown pandemic that’s been on top of everybody’s mind lately.
To get you back into the loop, let’s look at some of the most exciting things happening this year.
1. Some Big Changes
Despite their love for NASCAR, fans have long complained about the lack of innovation in the series. Just like your favorite flavor of pizza ceases to be the favorite after the fifth time in a row, watching the same cars on the same type of tracks with the same rules every year has lost some of its luster. Industry reports are showing double-digit drops in viewership every year. Ouch!
To tackle these challenges, the management at NASCAR has brought a storm of changes with this year’s schedule. We’ve got five new tracks this year. That includes the Circuit of The Americas, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Road America, and even the dormant Nashville Superspeedway to rekindle some memories from 2011.
There’s also the Bristol track that some of you may not even recognize because it’s covered with dirt now. That’s right! With thousands of truckloads of red clay covering this track, dirt racing is now a part of NASCAR.
We’ve already seen this in action with the debut of Food City Dirt Race in March this year. And boy, was it a thrill to watch! Despite the visibility problems because of dust and mud, drivers loved the track and fans were all for it. Joey Logano managed to snatch the win as pre-race favorites Larson and Bell both crashed out.
NASCAR has announced that dirt racing will be a part of the schedule next year. So if you missed out, be sure to watch the replays and mark your calendars for next year.
Speaking of next year, we’re going to see some new rides as the Next Gen car will debut in 2022 at Daytona. So if anything, we’re going to see more radical changes in our favorite stock motorsport race series in 2022.
2. COVID Continues to Strike
Like every other aspect of life, NASCAR hasn’t been the same since the pandemic hit us. Who doesn’t miss the echo of thousands of voices cheering in sync at the top of their lungs for their favorite racers? There’s just something electrifying about the whole experience. But as you can imagine, the pandemic put an end to that as all sports events barred audiences until recently.
The good news is that things are changing. This year, the Daytona International Speedway saw 30,000 spectators. That’s still a far cry from the official seating capacity of 100,000+ people, but it’s still a significant change towards normalcy.
As far as safety precautions are concerned, something both the management and the drivers have long been criticized for, NASCAR has finally tightened the security protocols near the end of August. The changes are mostly aimed at minimizing drivers’ exposure to audiences and media personnel.
3. The Fortune-Making Streak of Daytona 500 Continues
Imagine being a stock motorsport racer for 14 years without a win, and then coming ahead of everyone else in one of the hottest racing events out there. Luckily, you don’t have to imagine because that’s exactly what Michael McDowell has done this year.
Following a fierce last-minute crash in the final lap, McDowell left everyone in the dust (quite literally) to snatch a sensational victory. The 36-year-old journeyman has etched a name for himself in NASCAR history with this win.
Now, if this scenario sounds a little familiar, then don’t worry. You’re not having a deja vu moment. The Daytona 500 is a fortune-maker of sorts as the event has seen the exact same scenario play out not once but multiple times.
In 2001, Michael Waltrip secured his first win by snatching the top spot in Daytona 500. Same story in 2011 with Trevor Bayne. Now 2021 is here and we’ve seen Michael McDowell achieve the same. Looks like history does indeed repeat itself!
Now that you’re all caught up with some of the most important news from this year, be sure to catch up with the replays online and let us know what’s your favorite moment so far!