NASCAR is back and it’s going to look a bit different this season. Last year was a busy year for the sport as they tried to sort out fan attendance guidelines amidst the global pandemic. They also had to take a long, hard look at the culture of the sport amid social unrest.
The sport truly tried to progress itself forward last year. Whether that was through the banning of Confederate flags at the races on a social level, or whether it was trying to attract a younger audience with iRacing, NASCAR is showing that they are interested in change and making the sport grow even larger after several years of lagging attendance and lower television ratings.
That also means bringing in new teams and new owners. These new names include two of the world’s largest stars in sports and entertainment. This will be their first season to prove whether they are going to become NASCAR household names or a quick fadeaway. NBA legend Michael Jordan and rapper Pitbull headline this list. The self-ascribed Mr. Worldwide took to twitter to announce his news.
“I’ve been a fan of the @NASCAR story since the movie ‘Days of Thunder’, now I’m an official co-owner of the @TeamTrackhouse racing team. Thank you Justin Marks, Ty Norris & Daniel Suarez for the great opportunity. This is a great way to celebrate my 40th bday, so Get Ready! Dale!”
With Michael Jordan aboard, the sport could really attract a whole new wave of fans. Basketball and NASCAR aren’t the most obvious mix, but Jordan will attract a crowd that maybe didn’t have such an interest in NASCAR before. His first big move was inking Bubba Wallace to his 23XI team in which Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin is a minority partner.
Outside of the owners, the schedule is going to look different too. The overhauled 36-race slate includes races at three new road-course layouts, and the first Cup Series dirt race in more than 50 years. NASCAR is advertising this as the “best season ever” and it could be.
As far as drivers go, you know the drill. Chase Elliot is a massive fan favorite, coming off his first ever NASCAR Cup Series championship at the age of 24. He will be a favorite this season for many races and his fan base will probably grow to new heights.
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick are all coming off successful seasons and will be the top names to look out far in the series this year.
There are staples of NASCAR that will be present this season, but the main overarching theme is that the sport is getting younger, newer, and much fresher. You can call it a bit of a remodel if you’d like. By 2022, there will be a NextGen car on the track and for all we know Tiger Woods may own a team.
This could be the season that we look back on and recognize as NASCAR’s rebuild that took them to the next level.