Comments made on a Thursday morning International Speedway Corporation investors’ call are not sitting well with some of the younger drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
ISC president John Saunders was speaking about attendance decline when he said there is an issue with star power. Of course, NASCAR retirements in recent years have featured big names like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon.
Asked about the comments and if he feels any pressure to win, Ryan Blaney said no. He then followed it up by saying, “Honestly, this whole ‘young guys need to win now’ thing is getting old.
“We’re trying. We’re trying our hardest. It’s not like I go out there and I’m happy for fifth (place) every single week. Any other guy under the age of 25 I’ll just say is the same way. It’s not competition here between young guys and old guys, it’s competition between 39 other cars and yourself. No matter what your age is or your experience level, everyone is trying to accomplish the same goal.”
Blaney and Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon both feel the sport is in a good place but agreed seeing more winners, in general, would go a long way. Through 17 races there have been just six different winners. Most of those wins have come by veterans Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer, all of whom are older than 33 years of age.
“I don’t think it bothers me that he (Saunders) said that,” Dillon said. “I just want to know, what we do about it? How do you move forward with that? Because the guys that are in the sport are talented enough to win, and we haven’t made many changes this year to the packages that we’re running. Each and every week you probably can guess who the top three guys are probably going to be.
“I bet if everybody had to bet their house on it they’d probably pick between three guys right now. Maybe four. So, I don’t know. I bet he would, too.”
Richard Petty Motorsports rookie Darrell Wallace Jr. took a tougher stance.
“There’s a lot of boring stuff that we still have that has been the same thing at ISC tracks that we could update to get more fans out,” Wallace said. “It kind of goes hand in hand from us behind the wheel to people that are hosting us. It’s a group effort.”
ISC tracks on the schedule are Auto Club [Fontana], Chicagoland, Daytona International, Homestead-Miami and Kansas Speedways, as well as Darlington and Martinsville Raceways and Michigan International Speedway.