Talladega 2018 Recap: The NASCAR Decline Realization

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Once again, my annual Talladega weekend has come to an end. If you are not a NASCAR fan I understand but I’m 100% sure you have never attended a race at the Talladega Superspeedway. The best way to describe it is an adult spring break. Yes, it is probably the most white trash thing you will ever get to experience but that is part of the allure. In fact, you are heavily encouraged to take part in the white trashity. It is part of the experience. If Talladega is so great however, then why did this year seem so empty? Hopefully I can answer that in this Talladega 2018 recap.

There are plenty of things you can blame on the drastic decline in NASCAR viewership, a few things I have even chose to dive into. For this particular article however, I won’t focus on the cars, which is what I enjoy complaining about most. Instead, I will complain about the race itself. To make it blunt, the race was boring. One of the main reasons Talladega is one of the most popular races every year is because it is the opposite of boring. It is usually the most exciting race of the year. The longest track of the series with restrictor plates that forces cars to drive in close packs usually equates to a lot of wrecks and exciting maneuvers. Other than the 14-car wreck on lap 166, there wasn’t much action.

To make matters worse, everyone’s favorite driver, Joey Logano, took his first victory of the season after leading a race-high 70 laps. The 14-car wreck towards the end of the race did little to mix things up as the top 10 cars got by it unscathed. This includes Logano who lead the entirety of the last 42 laps of the race, almost completely unchallenged. The final lap wasn’t even exciting because others like Kurt Busch or Harvick chose to not ever really try and make a push.  Even if something exciting was happening, there’s a good chance the viewers at home didn’t get to witness it because there were so many commercials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFJU2lJShv4

I’m not entirely sure exactly what to blame it on but the fact is; this Talladega race earned a 2.8 overnight TV rating. That is awful. That is devastatingly bad. NASCAR has been experiencing a tragic decline for the past decade but Talladega has always been one of those “last hope” races that you never thought would experience this depression. Last year alone, the TV rating for this race was 3.4, which is still horrible compared to the 5.5 rating it received in 2003; which by the way was the average back then. Talladega use to compete with NFL ratings. Now, this race is getting out watched by NHL playoff games. Nothing against the NHL but the next stop for NASCAR is competing with the MLS.

Arriving at the campground Friday, I was immediately concerned. In the same campsite I have stayed for the past three years, I had never seen West Park B, the campground notorious for partying, so dead. I reassured myself it doesn’t get truly crowded until Saturday. Low and behold, by Saturday evening, after the Xfinity race and hours before the concert in the infield, West Park B was still half empty. I had a feeling of true disappointment. Talladega isn’t just about watching NASCAR; it’s about camping with your friends, meeting great people and overall having a great time. So I chose to do all of those things regardless of the crowed size.

Talladega was once again an amazing event. An event I plan on continuously attending until I’m forced to stop. Although I disagree with pretty much everything NASCAR has been doing over the past few years, I won’t let that stop me from having a great time. Even if you aren’t a NASCAR fan, I would highly recommend you and a group of friends going. Get a campsite; bring some tents and plenty of beer because it is essentially just a giant camping trip. It is a white trash Woodstock but with race cars. Even in a year like this, with a fairly boring race that clearly needs to be fixed, Talladega is still an event I look forward to every single year.

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