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Does Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson elimination affect fan interest in Chase?

Two rounds down, two to go in the 2014 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. With Sunday’s completion of round two, a.k.a. the Contender round, the Chase for the Sprint Cup field stands at eight drivers: Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards.

Some favorites were eliminated Sunday at Talladega — reigning and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson and most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kasey Kahne was also eliminated, making Gordon the only HMS representative still in the Chase. Kyle Busch, who had been showing championship-type potential that had been missing in previous chases, was also bounced.

So, what does a Chase with NASCAR most popular (Earnhardt) and most dominant (Johnson) drivers spell for the sport? Does it really make a difference in interest, i.e. viewership, for the remainder of the Chase? My guess is no.

There are some fans, and I’ll call these “fringe” or “fair weather” fans on social media who claim they’ve lost all interest and will NOT be watching the remaining four races. Maybe they’re being honest; maybe they’re not. But I’m guessing they’re in the minority, and here’s why”

They claim they’ve lost all interest, because their drivers aren’t in it anymore. Really? Okay, so maybe they’ve lost at least some interest in the championship, but the NASCAR season in general?

Earnhardt didn’t make the Chase on a consisitent basis prior to 2014, anyway. Was Junior Nation not watching the seasons he didn’t make the Chase before? I’m guessing they were.

As for Johnson, and Earnhardt, Kahne and Busch for that matter, they’re still racing every weekend. They may not be racing for a championship, but they’re still racing for wins, aren’t they? Why not watch for that reason?

When it comes to stick-and-ball sports, fans may lose interest when their teams are eliminated in the post-season, and that makes sense in those sports. But there’s a difference. In those cases, their teams are no longer playing, but in NASCAR, Johnson, Busch, Earnhardt and Kahne are still racing and trying to win every week. They may no longer be going after a championship, but they’re still in the game, so to speak.

And as for drivers being eliminated, under the previous format that didn’t include eliminations, points leads or gaps kind of naturally eliminated drivers, didn’t they? When your driver fell way back in the standings then, did you stop watching? Again, I’m guessing no.

Will you still be watching? Speak out with this poll.

Also, talk to us on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner.

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Posted by on October 21, 2014. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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