Perception has become the all-too frequent reality in NASCAR and there is no better example than the response to empty seats at Dover International Speedway this past weekend.
Attendance declines at Dover are nothing new and in fact the crowd Sunday wasn’t dramatically different from last spring’s race.
Yet the response on social media this week would lead you to believe the bottom fell out of the track, even leaving some to belittle the efforts the track made in efforts to attract new fans.
Here is the harsh new reality: It apparently is better received by fans and media to tear down your empty seats than try to fill them.
Don’t believe me?
Look back on your social media timelines and check stories in the media following the races this season at Fontana, Calif., Talladega, Ala., and Richmond, Va. You will find compliments galore on the crowds at those tracks and the efforts of those facilities to “fill the seats.”
Yet in each of those races, there was no dramatic difference in the number of people who attended over the same race a year ago.
So what changed? The seating capacity was reduced at each track in the offseason. Thousands of seats were physically removed from each track (and some seats were expanded in size) thus putting the crowd that showed up in a much tighter environment.
The end result is this: What transpired at Dover last Sunday was essentially no different than what anyone saw at Fontana, Talladega and Richmond in terms of “attendance woes.”
The difference was Dover chose not to haul away its problem and instead tried to address it.
And for that they were lambasted. What a shame.
Pit stops during competition cautions will be optional (last season they were mandatory) and each qualifying race will be 10 laps long (previously they were eight laps).
In addition, a random draw will determine qualifying order (practice speeds were used last season) and owner points will be awarded to the top five team owners whose trucks do not transfer to the main feature. Last season, teams that did not advance to the main feature did not earn owner points.
Jones, 18, will drive Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota in the Truck race and then will compete for KBM on Sunday in the Howie Lettow Memorial 150 Super Late Model race at Milwaukee.
Jones’ team owner, Kyle Busch, won the Late Model event last season in dominating fashion.
A 30-minute recap show will air in the Charlotte area on CW-affiliate WCCB, Channel 11 on Time Warner Cable, at 1 p.m. on the Saturday following the Tuesday-night event.
Tickets are $7 for adults and kids 13 and under get in free. Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies starting at 6:45 p.m.
Kennedy, 22, will also compete in the road course races at Sonoma, Calif. (June 22), and Watkins Glen, N.Y. (Aug. 10), this season with the team.