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Qualifying feedback, rating Las Vegas and NNS viewership
by Dustin Long
Does qualifying matter? Are fans watching? Is there a better way? Those were among some of the questions members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debated this week, along with rating last weekend’s Cup race at Las Vegas and if what is happening in the Nationwide Series is leading them to watch more of that series.
Here’s what Fan Council members had to say this week:
Cup qualifying: When should it be held?
58.0 percent said they like Cup qualifying on Friday
27.8 percent said they like Cup qualifying on Saturday
14.2 percent said Other
Here’s what Fan Council members said:
• It's nice to sit after a long week and watch the cars go around the track on Friday nights. I know it sounds very simplistic, but I find it a good way to wind down.
• I prefer the Friday qualifying. It gives the teams more chance to work on the cars and more of a chance to qualify if weather becomes an issue.
• I like it when the tracks can get most of the action on two days. I think I could go to more races if the weekends were more compact. I like to see EVERYTHING when I go so when they do quals and practices on Friday, it is a little more expensive.
• Qualifying on Friday with one practice, gives the drivers two practices on Saturday. This always gives the drivers and crew chiefs the time necessary to adjust their cars properly and makes for a better race.
• I hate qualifying on Saturday. When I show up to the track Saturday I enjoy watching 2 hours of Cup practice. It’s cool to see your driver making runs and listening to them on the scanner. When they just do quals on Saturday you see your driver for about a minute. Then its over. Plus the track changes so much from Friday to Sunday. I think it makes it harder for guys to hit on setups. While one guy can hit on it and just kill everyone.
• Qualifying is easier to "watch" on Twitter and at work on Fridays. More fun to watch practice on Saturday, plus I think it gives a better opportunity to fine tune cars after qualifying.
• Qualify before the Nationwide race makes for a better Saturday. May even bring more people for the Nationwide race.
Are you watching qualifying?
54.2 percent said they watch as much of qualifying as they can
27.3 percent said they’ll watch it if they have nothing else to do
13.1 percent said they don’t care for qualifying except to see where their driver starts
5.4 percent said qualifying is boring and they don’t watch it.
What Fan Council members said:
• I'm watching and trying to mine the commentary for little nuggets of information that will help my fantasy team picks.
• I'm not a fan of seeing single cars on track making circles, I would love to see some kind of format with multiple cars on track but understand that could skew the times on tracks where drafting could come into play.
• I enjoy watching/listening to the discussions and interviews. However, I hate when they don't actually show the cars qualifying. Let the interview audio run over the qualifying video. I don't need to see the people talking.
• I DVR it every week and try to replay as much as I can.
• I don't watch qualifying. I would be a lot more interested if there were points awarded for the pole.
• My stance on watching qualifying has changed recently ever since I switched my cell phone to Sprint. Thank goodness for Sprint because I can watch all practices and qualifying on my phone, and I watch every chance I get.
• Let's be honest, nothing exciting here. Only curious to know how my drivers are doing.
• I not only watch it, but follow it on NASCAR.com PitCommand.
What about qualifying races?
Daytona holds qualifying races to help set the lineup for the Daytona 500. Fan Council members were asked what would they think if NASCAR set the field at some tracks via a qualifying race.
34.7 percent Loved the idea
26.3 percent Liked the idea
24.2 percent Hated the idea
14.8 percent said they Don’t Care
What Fan Council members said:
• In my opinion, NASCAR (and specifically, the Sprint Cup Series) is the top of the food chain when it comes to American motorsports. Let's leave the qualifying and heat races to local tracks. In this economy, teams can't afford to tear up and replace equipment in preliminary events.
• Love the idea for Daytona 500 and love it for other tracks as well!! The more racing the better and it would give it a grassroots type feeling....like Saturday night dirt track racing where you qualify and then you race your feature.
• I like the opportunity for more races. That way, you know that the best cars that will race will be racing on Sunday. Also, if NASCAR decides to go this way, allow a backup car for the race with no penalty if they wreck in the qualifying race.
• No! No! No! Hate the idea.
• I love the idea of it, but with the top 35 rule, it is blunted somewhat.
• More racing = more fun. I'd rather watch them race each other. It would probably increase the need for backup cars.
• Stop trying to change things that are not needed...
• They do that at Daytona for the 500, and it is STUPID! Why qualify 3rd and have to start 28th?
• That would be FANtastic!
• I'd actually prefer <GASP> the F1 style of qualifying. Some type of knockout qualifying under race conditions as opposed to one car on the track at a time.
Rating Sunday’s Las Vegas Cup race
64.7 percent called it Good
17.6 percent called it Fair
12.9 percent called it Great
4.7 percent called it Poor
What Fan Council members said:
• The middle part of the event was a typical 1.5-mile track race; not much excitement. The battle at the end, between Stewart & Johnson made up for it.
• I thought it was pretty good as I attended the race, not sure how it looked on TV. It seemed like the race had a dominant car leading for each quarter. First it was Junior, then Kenseth, Johnson, and finally Stewart. These EFI issues are scaring me though.
• Track position is way too important on mile-and-a-half tracks nowadays, and this showed again on Sunday. It's not fun to see a car lead a large portion of the race and then not be able to pass cars on older tires once back in traffic. Good cars should be able to come to the front.
• Oh here it comes.. You'll get a bunch of boring comments. It wasn't!!! I watched a lot of drivers pass a lot of cars. That is racing! I liked it!!
• I actually found it boring until the last 10 laps. No action.
• Very boring race up until the final 20 laps. Cookie Cutter tracks are always snoozers and I'm glad Las Vegas doesn't have a second race.
• I'm only giving it a good rating due to the way the race ended. There was some serious driving going on behind the wheel of that number 14 and the number 48 and it made for one hell of a show towards the end. The first 240 laps though...well there's a reason the term cookie cutter keeps being brought up with these tracks. They are all different we know and they each drive different but the viewing experience of tracks like Vegas, Kansas, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Michigan, and California are always the same and produce the same results when you watch.
• I thought Vegas was as good as you could get at a 1.5-mile track that isn't Atlanta.
Nationwide Series viewership
The first three Nationwide races have been won by non-Cup regulars with James Buescher winning at Daytona, Elliott Sadler winning at Phoenix and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. winning at Las Vegas. Fan Council members were asked if seeing the Nationwide regulars win makes them want to watch more of the races in this series.
58.3 percent said Yes
37.3 percent said their decision to watch Nationwide races is not impacted by this
4.3 percent said No
What Fan Council members said:
• This is exactly as it should be! Great job by NASCAR and some of the Cup team owners to take focus in the NNS off NSCS drivers.
• I love the Nationwide regulars are putting on a show. Since Kyle Busch isn't such a factor at the beginning of this year, others have a chance of showing what they got. It's exciting, and I love they get the spotlight. It's also fantastic we get to see some new faces and see who the next stars of this sport are going to be.
• I absolutely believe there should be no Cup drivers in Nationwide (and I'm a Kasey Kahne fan.) So I have been thrilled to see non-Cup drivers win in their own series!!!
• I used to watch every Nationwide and Truck race, but once Kyle Busch took over I stopped watching those where he was entered. The more I see the non-Cup regulars win, the more I want to start watching again.
• I don't care whether a Cup guy or a non-Cup guy wins. I think this shows the folly of NASCAR trying to push Cup guys out of the series through their "declare which championship you are running for" rule. Every Cup guy who normally runs Nationwide races except Carl Edwards was in those first three races this season. Things like that just work themselves out.
• There are two reasons for me NOT to watch the Nationwide races this year... one NO Carl Edwards and two TOO much Danica.
• Ever since Danica Patrick has decided to be full time in Nationwide, I started watching every race. Last year, I could care less who won in Nationwide unless Danica won it.
• I honestly could not care less about Elliot Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. or even Austin Dillon. I watch Nationwide races because they are on, not because I have interest in anyone running for a Nationwide championship. You could put 43 monkeys in the drivers seats and I would still watch because it is a race.
Follow Dustin on Twitter: @DustinLong