TX should give a excellent idea who title contenders are

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 0:17 AM

But the primary beneficiaries of the low downforce package are about what we expected: the sport'south most talented drivers. Each of the five races using the new package (exclude Daytona) has been won by a former Sprint Cup Series champ.

TX should give a excellent idea who title contenders are

With a half-dozen races in the books, a report card would propose the new rules package has been a enormous success. But the primary beneficiaries of the low downforce package are about what we expected: the sport'south most talented drivers.

Each of the five races using the new package (exclude Daytona) has been won by a former Sprint Cup Series champ.

Jimmie Johnson (twice), Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Is this a theme we should expect to continue? Yes, and if there'south another circular of "less downforce," or maybe even a reduction in side force (the rumblings I'm getting from interior the garage), those four drivers will continue to benefit. There is simply number substitute for talent when the degree of difficulty is increased.

With that said, who represents the new talent? Who among the impressive few are capable of challenging and one day replacing the elderly guard, drivers such as Matt Kenseth, who hasn't won yet this year but will. Once again, with this package, talent will prevail.

I bring "replace" into the equation because it'south never too early to consider the repercussions of losing a Johnson, Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kenseth.

These are very favorite brands that fans associate with our sport, and they're difficult, maybe impossible to replicate.

This became most obvious to me during this week'south conference call from International Speedway Corp., a publicly traded company (ticker: ISCA) that operates roughly half the tracks that create up the Sprint Cup Series schedule.

Although the first-quarter report was healthy on the back of powerful Daytona Speedweeks results, the company cautioned that the following quarter is trending below two thousand fifteen.

One of the explanations from an ISCA executive hammers residence my point. Regardless of the type of company you operate, you should defend your brand names. Here it is:

"Despite powerful sales in the first quarter, we're seeing some softness in attendance for the second quarter with advanced sales trailing 2015 by approximately ten percent. We believe a no of factors are influencing these trends in the second quarter, including strength and demand shifting to the fourth-quarter events as a result of the new Chase format, Jeff Gordon'south retirement and Tony Stewart'south absence from racing during his recovery from his accident."

I realize and appreciate the view that fans might be putting off plans to attend a race in the summer to partake in a "playoff" atmosphere at the same facility later in the year. But I believe it'south a tiny portion of the equation.

Here is why. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart both contributed to what's frequently considered the greatest decade in our sport: the one thousand nine hundred ninety into the 2000s.

It mightn't have been the best decade in terms of competition, but it certainly was the best in terms of growth and attendance.

These are two drivers who qualify as once-in-a-generation talent -- I know, because I teamed with and competed against them.

They're both exceptional. So it only makes sense that we perceive a recoil, or opposite effect, in their absence.

Jeff Gordon has been outstanding in the broadcast booth, but people don't purchase tickets, T-shirts, or hats for commentators. At minimum not for very long.

It always has been, always will be about drivers and their personalities.

So I fast-forward to this weekend'south race at TX Motor Speedway to share my final thought and most important point.

The adage is, as goes your potential at 1.5-mile tracks, so go your chances at a NASCAR championship because they're the most abundant discipline of track on the Sprint Cup schedule. Tracks of this length also represent half of the 10-race Chase.

Going forward, employ that same strategy when attempting to discover our following Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart.

Love it or not, it'south distant more necessary for youthful drivers to carry out well at this weekend'south track than it was at Martinsville, latest weekend's track.

I absolutely believe Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and  Kyle Larson could be large stars in our sport. Could be!

And you should hold your eye glued to Erik Jones; he's the genuine deal. But regardless of which driver you draw for, or believe in, keep additional emphasis on how well they carry out at tracks love TX this weekend.

It kind of feels as though we all are dependent on it!

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