There was enough news, controversy and anger on one day — Tuesday — than any other day in recent NASCAR memory.
And taken together, it gives fans no reason to feel good about the future of their sport.
In ONE DAY:
- Smithfield Foods it was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports for Stewart-Haas Racing.
- Danica Patrick announced she was leaving Stewart-Haas.
- RPM announced Aric Almirola wouldn’t be back in the No. 43
- RPM tore into Smithfield, claiming it had a handshake agreement for continued sponsorship
- Smithfield fired back, accusing RPM of lying about the supposed handshake agreement and criticizing the team’s performance.
This is all against the backdrop of two more high profile controversies — Mark Lemonis telling NASCAR fans who agreed with how President Trump handled Charlottsville to avoid shopping at Camping World; and Subway dumping Daniel Suarez because he appeared in a skit for NBC that featured Dunkin’ Donuts.
Does anyone even know that there’s a race Sunday, and the playoffs are starting?
NASCAR clearly has a huge problem. It’s ratings have been down all year. Not every race is full, The sport is having a very hard time keeping old sponsors and attracting new ones, and it’s desperately trying to attract a young demographic.
It has also lost one of its most popular drivers in Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who is retiring — and Patrick, who may not have a ride next year.
Amid all this, we have a public war of words between a racing legend and a sponsor and more turmoil that an episode of a soap opera.
Oh — where’s Brian France through all of this? The commissioner of any of the major sports would have, by now, publicly stepped in to try to make sure everyone knew that the sport was addressing everyone’s concerns and looking forward to a positive resolution.
From NASCAR — so far anyway — silence.
These are turbulent times that demand firm leadership. Where’s NASCAR’s?