NASCAR’s latest race of the season kicks off at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is a key race for drivers looking to make it into the playoffs.
The famed track is also home to the sport’s annual season opener: the Daytona 500. But interest in the sport’s signature event appears to be waning. This February, the race drew a Nielsen Rating of 5.3, a record low for NASCAR, according to Sports Media Watch. Some say it's just the latest sign the sport is losing its core fan base.
For more than 70 years, NASCAR has been a staple in American sports. It got its humble start hosting races on the beaches of Daytona, Florida, and has since grown into America's premier auto racing league. But the iconic U.S. sport has had an undeniably rough few years.
It's been losing TV viewers. It's having trouble filling the stands, even after losing tens of thousands of seats from its stadiums. And perhaps most worrisome of all, it's losing sponsors, and those that remain are paying less than they used to. NASCAR declined a request for comment.
So what went so wrong for NASCAR?