Bubba Wallace Grateful for Flag Ban, however NASCAR’s Followers Would possibly Not Be

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Since then, NASCAR has traveled removed from its roots, which have been planted in dust tracks in locations like Rockingham, N.C., and Talladega, Ala., by drivers who honed their abilities by working moonshine and outrunning revenuers. The races as soon as have been predominantly within the Southeast, and its drivers hailed from the area. Now, NASCAR races are held on tracks from coast to coast, and solely two of the highest 10 drivers are from the Southeast.

Kyle Petty, the longtime racer and son of the seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, known as the ban “an enormous second.”

“As we take a look at the game and the way the game has grown, we have been means behind the curve,” he stated on the present “NASCAR America” on NBCSN.

And NASCAR’s latest efforts to develop, whereas additionally making an attempt to make the game extra inclusive, haven’t been profitable: The variety of followers who’ve deserted the game since its peak is startling. For instance, this yr’s Daytona 500, NASCAR’s marquee race, had 7.three million tv viewers. Simply 5 years in the past, in 2015, that quantity was almost double, at 13.four million.

The group additionally has made efforts to diversify, with applications geared toward hiring minority drivers. But when Wallace gained a race in 2013 at one in all NASCAR’s nationwide collection, it was the primary time an African-American had gained at that stage in 50 years.

Matthew Bernthal, the advertising and marketing division chair at Florida Southern School, has studied NASCAR, and stated the group has grappled with the flag subject for some time. “I merely don’t suppose they’d a selection proper now however to ban the flag, given the temper of the nation,” he stated. “However I believe the model’s values have shifted as a result of they’ve chosen to take such a robust stance.”

With the coronavirus public well being disaster limiting followers at racetracks, it may be an extended whereas earlier than NASCAR feels the complete influence of its choice. However Darrell Waltrip, the three-time Winston Cup collection champion who retired in 2000, warned folks to not view complaints concerning the ban on social media as a sign that followers will depart the game.

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