Round one is over in the Chase but it already has produced many changes on and off the track for fans. Races are starting later, fans are seeing more of it and there’s a new points leader with the former points leader saying he’ll win this weekend. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council examine these and other issues this week.
Denny Hamlin proclaims on Twitter he’ll win at New Hampshire
After running out of fuel at the end and losing several spots last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Denny Hamlin stated on Twitter he would win this weekend’s race at New Hampshire. Fan Council members were asked what they thought of his declaration:
72.0 percent said it was a great move to get his team looking ahead rather than back
28.0 percent said it was a bad move because it raised expectations and pressure
What Fan Council members said:
• These guys have to stay motivated and move on regardless of what happened in one race. I don't blame Denny one bit for being positive and knowing what his team is capable of!
• Denny, Denny, Denny … why did you have to open your mouth and make the statement, “We will win next week.” That statement just might come back and bite you in the a**. I have watched Denny want to win a race at any cost and he didn't care who he ran over to get the job done. Watch out Chasers!!!
• Denny's handling himself and his team MUCH better this year than in past years! The driver is the focal point that the team rallies around, and unlike his teammate who tends to isolate and turn off the team with his tirades, Denny seems to have learned his lesson and is doing what he needs to keep his team rolling along!
• It shows that while he has a fragile psyche (at times), he feels confident in himself and his team for next week. New Hampshire is one of Denny's best tracks and (crew chief Darian) Grubb won the race there last year ... why not make a bold prediction?
• Every driver should expect to win, so I see nothing wrong with expressing thoughts.
• I can remember the last time Denny had that same look on his face. Phoenix 2010 and his Chase was done as he folded like a house of cards. Only now we'll see him fold up the tent over nine races instead of two.
• There is a difference between confidence and cockiness — and that right there is confidence. He knows that he and his team can and WILL get it done. Any time Denny calls his shot, they deliver. They will be in Victory Lane next weekend when it's all said and done.
• It's a good thing. With NASCAR having become so vanilla, it could certainly use some more Joe Namath types.
Is later greater?
As it has done in the past, start times for NASCAR Sprint Cup races in the Chase are later than they normally are before the Chase. Fan Council members were asked if they liked the later start times during the Chase:
48.5 percent said it didn’t matter to them
27.8 percent said they liked it
23.7 percent said they hated it
What Fan Council members said:
• I don't understand the thought process. How does pushing start times back bring in viewers? Football viewers are going to start watching those games and if they are intense and good how are you going to pull those viewers away? NASCAR would have to expect those games to be boring and not exciting to entice those viewers over. Just doesn't make sense.
• It doesn't matter to me what time the races start, I will watch them over the NFL.
• NASCAR is going to lose to NFL or college football, no matter what they do. The product and the number of cookie-cutter tracks lends to that. I watched football for most of the day and came back at the best time — when Brad took the lead from Jimmie. I had no problem with the earlier start times but whatever NASCAR believes, they go with, no matter how flawed the logic.
• There's no way it won't conflict with NFL so best bet would have been to have the race at the normal time. My (NFL) game was 4:00 pm and I had to stop watching the race 60 percent of the way in to watch my game. A 12:00 start might have worked out.
• I started watching NFL games. Almost forgot to turn the TV to the race. I see this as a serious problem with casual fans. If they tune into an NFL game and it turns out to be a good game, they are less likely to change the channel to watch the race.
• I like it. It gives me the chance to see the start of the race as I normally arrive home after church and the race has started.
• NASCAR should stop trying to worry about the NFL all the time. Changing start times is an inconvenience to people in every time zone.
• I couldn't care less ... I'm DVRing the races and watching NFL RedZone all day.
• Like it or not, it is best for our sport. The later in the day you run the races the more people who can tune in, especially on the West Coast.
Just as it did last year during the Chase, ESPN will show a split-screen of the race and commercials during the second half of the race. Fan Council members were asked about what they thought of this:
54.2 percent love it
30.5 percent like it
12.6 percent don’t care
2.7 percent hate it
What Fan Council members said:
• Just like last year, having the box there during the commercial is POINTLESS if ESPN isn't going to show any RACING. Showing a close-up of Jimmie Johnson during a commercial break is irrelevant.
• Keeps from missing out on racing action during those long string of commercials. LOVE IT!
• They should do this more and NOT just for select races. With all the commercials being poured into the races these days, us fans deserve to see more than 60 percent (max) of the racing action.
• I wish that all the TV partners would do a split screen for the entire race, every race. Actually, it's better because the advertiser's logo is seen separate of the commercial so you actually know what is being advertised. Maybe that can be worked out in the next TV contract. IndyCar does it and it's great. I understand that the local breaks have to be full-screen commercials; but, for the national commercials, they can do split-screen.
• Commercials pay for the sport, and this is a good way to accommodate the advertisers while making sure we don't miss something during a commercial break. I wish all the NASCAR networks did this from midway through, rather than just the last few laps.
• Watching in the UK, we have commercial free coverage for the whole race
• Not OK with the race being 25 percent and the ads being 75 percent of the screen. Needs to be a 50-50 split.
• Bravo to ESPN … I'd like to see this 100 percent for Homestead!