THE 2010 CHASE: FINALLY SOME STEAK TO GO WITH THAT SIZZLE

You ever had this happen? A new steakhouse gets set to open with great fanfare. There’s a buzz about town, they’ve run a splashy ad campaign, and they’ve promised a dining experience unlike any you’ve ever had.

You’ve made a date, you’ve hired a baby sitter and you’ve brought your appetite for the big Grand Opening. The only problem is, you get there, and the servers are ill-mannered and ill-trained, even the best courses are not better than what you could make at home (at best), your wallet just took a hard hit, and you’ve realized you just spent two hours of your life you’ll never get back.
 
If a business survives all the negative buzz that’s sure to follow, they’ll have an uphill battle restoring the damage of a bad reputation. They’ll never admit it, but NASCAR must surely know with their playoff system- “The Chase”- they’ve offered a lot of sizzle and very little steak, leaving customers unsatisfied and uncertain they’ll ever return.
 

It will take a lot of work by the governing body to restore fan confidence, but perhaps the dramatic playoff they’ve long needed has finally arrived. A driver who barely made the cut won the Chase’s opening race. The Chase’s dominating, defending champion wound up deep in the finishing order. Strategy, adversity, team execution and performance- with a dash of good fortune thrown in- all played a part in Sunday’s event.
 
The good news for fans and the good news for NASCAR is that the drivers are doing their part to offer up a better race watching experience. The defending champion defied perception by getting aggressive from the get-go, competitors traded paint, and there was an intensity present that is ordinarily reserved for Bristol.
 
Do the teams appear more prepared for a stretch run than before? Have the challengers girded themselves for a shot at history to knock off the four-time defending champion? With a few tweaks here, and a lot more preparation there, the customers who have stuck it out may finally have their loyalty rewarded. 
 
A lot can happen over ten races, but the appetizers looked promising. It takes centuries to grow a forest, and a few minutes to burn it down. Regrowing NASCAR’s popularity can’t happen overnight, but if, with each succeeding race, the sport works toward a better race-watching experience, new fans can be won, and old fans can be won back. 
 
We’ve got a hunger for good racing, NASCAR. Your patrons got a sweet morsel, and now we want more. Not every disaffected customer will return, not everyone will be satisfied, but you’d be amazed who you can win over if the effort is evident.