200 Miles From the Citi

February 17, 2010 6:46 AM

Yellow Flag

2010_Daytona.JPGI'm issuing a caution to NASCAR.

I'm the type of fan they're trying to reach - marginal interest, on the cusp of being drawn in more.

I really enjoyed the one race I saw in person, and I would certainly go again.

I was interested in last Sunday's Daytona 500.

But more problems like they had on Sunday, and they'll lose me.

Don't get me wrong here - in no way is NASCAR about to become my favorite sport.

I'm not even sure I would care an ounce if I didn't have fantasy NASCAR to steer my interests.  (Let me rephrase that - I know I wouldn't care an ounce.)

But because of fantasy NASCAR, I will tune in to a race at least once per opposed to the zero times I watched races over the previous 30 years.

(A brief history - this will be my third year playing fantasy NASCAR.  The first year I did it to get me through from the Super Bowl to March Madness.  Turned out I absolutely loved it, watched every race almost the entire season.  Last year, I couldn't pick the right drivers, got frustrated early, and stopped paying any attention after March.  This year I almost didn't play, but I picked up a Week 1 win, so I'm feeling good about the season.)

And I'm getting interested in the sport for more than just fantasy reasons.  I see the excitement, and I like that NASCAR is taking steps to make the sport more viewer-friendly...trying to draw in people like me.

But things like potholes on the tracks are unacceptable.

I understand red flags for weather.  It's frustrating, but it's understandable.  (The rain-shortened finish was the only negative part of my live NASCAR experience a couple of years ago.)

Yellow flags are also frustrating, but I understand the strategy involved in how to take advantage of them, and how they could also make a race more exciting.  I also understand their necessity.

But a red flag because of track conditions is hard to stomach...worse, the accompanying two-hour-plus delay.

I'm not finished with NASCAR yet (though a worse fantasy finish on Sunday might have done me in).  I'm willing to tune in to the Auto Club 500 this weekend.

But the race had better be entertaining, and everything had better run smoothly.

Otherwise, NASCAR, you'll have one less fringe fan to worry about.

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