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NASCAR Won't Return To Its Past Prominence
CNBC.com | November 22, 2010 | 10:41 AM EST

Yesterday's finish of the Ford 400 was a must watch, even for the casual sports fan. Jimmie Johnson down 15 points going into the final race finished second in the race to edge Denny Hamlin and win his fifth straight championship.

It could be argued that, other than the Daytona 500, which happens to be the first race of the year, it was the only time the casual sports fan tuned in to see the cars go round and round.

Big ratings declines for a second straight season, including drops during the 10-race chase that was supposed to inject more life into the sport, suggest NASCAR is gasping for air. And in interview after interview NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France and president Mike Helton have failed to come up a specific reason.

They start with the economy, which is a valid excuse for the big attendance drops for NASCAR, which basically seek to host a huge crowd every Sunday in a different venue. But it doesn't hold water with TV. If people stay at home instead of go to the race, why aren't they tuning in?

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