Twenty years ago NASCAR was on the rise and October's Diehard 500 was the most exciting race of that 1997 season with a profligacy of passing to where the official stat of 32 lead changes looks too low
Speedweeks 2017 hopes to see an upset winner of the 500 along the lines of the 2014 Firecracker 400 - though without the rain
The Wall Street Journal authored a widely-read analysis of the decline of NASCAR popularity and racing writer Jeff Gluck adds his own take by noting Brian France's absence from the sanctioning body to where he in essence has no stake in the company and Lesa France Kennedy and Jim France basically are the ones in charge even though Brian ostensibly handles day-to-day operation.
As one respondent, Shane McKinney, notes in the Gluck piece, "It's amazing the actual shareholders.....have no interest in NASCAR except to collect the monies."
It showcases what has been apparent for many years now - the incompetence of the sanctioning body's leadership. It also raises questions about whether the France family down the road will continue to hold onto NASCAR and its racetrack brethren International Speedway Corporation. Certainly the fact Monster Energy Drink is paying substantially less in sponsorship money than past sponsors is a disturbing sign the sport's value has faltered badly.
It shows how much hope a lot of people have put into Monster Energy's involvement - for the sport's history shows it has genuine competitive excellence, excellence it needs to get back.