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NASCAR digital and social media numbers continue to grow in 2016
During his State of the Sport press conference prior to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France relayed an anecdote about watching a scaled-down, highlight-driven Duke college basketball game on his laptop. The story painted a broad picture of the shift in fan consumption habits. And for NASCAR , that has meant a shift in strategy to serve fans who want an immersive experience, whether attending live in-person, watching on TV, or engaging with sports at home or on the go. By all metrics, NASCAR ’s digital and social media numbers have shown strong growth over the 2016 season, validating a strategic choice to reach race fans in the multifaceted ways they opt to consume NASCAR content. Consider these numbers: Overall, NASCAR drew 256 million social engagements across all its digital platforms, an 87 percent increase year-over-year, and a massive increase of video content views. NASCAR saw a 14 percent growth in followers across its social and digital platforms. Of particular note was a spike in the growth of Snapchat followers after NASCAR announced its partnership with that platform in February. NASCAR competitors and fans provided live content from four races, starting with the Daytona 500 , under the aegis of "Snapchat Live Story." The Daytona 500 itself saw a 63-percent increase in race day impressions, while engagement with NASCAR content tripled. "It’s been fantastic," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "I think that what it has done is validated our strategy that we set out at the very beginning of this season, when we talked about leading with digital and social and really trying to talk to our fans where they were and going to reach them at all the places they consume NASCAR . "We started that with our 'Ready.Set.Race' campaign and the Hashtag 500 around the Daytona 500 , and it’s really just continued to build throughout the whole season." The Hashtag 500, the race to win Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s firesuit, generated 13,000 NASCAR -related mentions in a single minute, a high-water mark for NASCAR content since the advent of the sanctioning body’s Fan and Media Engagement Center. Central to the success of the 2016 digital and social media campaign was heavy promotion of #TheChase across all platforms, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week playoff. Capturing the drama of the Chase, which concluded with Jimmie Johnson claiming his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, was the digital film series "Ready.Set.Chase." All told, the five-film series garnered more than 13 million views. "I think we’re seeing it at NASCAR , and obviously we see it happening across the sports and entertainment landscape, that fans want to customize their experience regardless of what they’re watching or looking at," Gregory said. "If we want to talk to those fans, we have to go places that are convenient for them. "If they’re watching on their mobile app, if they’re watching via NASCAR .com, if they’re watching on television, it’s our job as the league to provide all of that great content in all of those places and then make sure that we deliver the right experience for each of those platforms."
Report: Chrysler exec says NASCAR return possible
RELATED: France: New manufacturer in NASCAR a possibility Chrysler is exploring the possibility of making a return to NASCAR , according to a report from the Daytona Beach News-Journal . The report indicates that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne recently spoke with NASCAR Vice Chairman Jim France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy about the prospect of Dodge returning to the sport. Dodge left the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 following Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski 's first premier series title. Penske has employed Ford Fusions in its stable since. Should Dodge return to stock car auto racing's top series, it will mark another comeback for the manufacturer after initially being reintroduced in 2001 by Ray Evernham. "I talked to Jim France about this (Saturday) night," Marchionne told the newspaper. "I was the one who made the decision to pull out of NASCAR . I am the guilty party at the table. In 2009, we came out of bankruptcy and tried to race NASCAR (but) with the big bills and make payroll was a stretch. "We are in a different place now. I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR . I think we need to find the right way to come back in, but I agreed with both Jim and Lesa we would come back to the issue." The newspaper also reported that Jim France confirmed he spoke to Marchionne. "Yes, we talked," Jim France said. "He is a very intelligent man. We had a good discussion."
HScott Motorsports won't compete in NASCAR in 2017
HScott Motorsports will not field teams for the 2017 season in NASCAR's premier series, according to a statement from the team. HSM fielded two full-time entries for 2015-16 in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, most recently with drivers Clint Bowyer in the team's No. 15 Chevrolet and Michael Annett in the No. 46 Chevrolet. Bowyer ended the '16 season 27th in points; Annett placed 36th. "Over the past several months I considered a number of options for moving forward with the team," Scott said in the statement. "Regrettably there are no viable sponsor/driver options immediately available to allow the team to participate in 2017." Bowyer, who joined the team before the start of the '16 season, was scheduled to remain with the team for only one season before moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017 to replace co-owner/driver Tony Stewart in that organization's No. 14 entry. Officials with Bowyer's sponsor, 5-hour Energy, announced earlier this year that the company would become the primary sponsor for Erik Jones and the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota entry in '17. Last month, it was announced that Annett and his sponsor, Pilot Flying J, would move to JR Motorsports to compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next season. "One thing I have learned about NASCAR is that it is a 'people business,'" Scott said. "I will be forever grateful to the men and women who worked tirelessly to make HScott Motorsports successful. ... "I love this sport and being part of it. I invested in NASCAR because I truly believe it represents the best racing competition in the world and the best people in all sports." The organization's charter for its No. 15 team has been sold to Premium Motorsports, according to HSM. The No. 46 charter, which was originally leased from Premium, was returned to Premium, which in turn has sold it to Furniture Row Racing . Charter teams are guaranteed starting positions in NASCAR premier series points races. HScott Motorsports came into being after Scott purchased the former Phoenix Racing team from owner James Finch. The organization was originally located in Spartanburg, S.C., but moved to Mooresville, N.C., before the start of the '16 season. "Looking back, I will always be especially proud of the unprecedented success of our NASCAR K&N Series teams, including four consecutive championships, and for the lifelong friendships that were forged over the last seven years," Scott said. Seven drivers combined for 189 starts at HSM; Bowyer managed three of the organization's four career top 10s this past season. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR TV schedule: December 5-11
New NASCAR .com homepage improves mobile, live-event experience
NASCAR .com's homepage is being redesigned with mobile and live events in mind. The new look and functionality improves the user experience by taking fans to the track and the news of the day on any device, wherever they are. The more visual layout presents top stories, videos and photo galleries in a consistent way across computers, tablets and phones. A single homepage highlights news, schedules and standings for the premier series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. Races are at the heart of the new NASCAR .com homepage with the new Race Center component. When cars or trucks are on track, find quick links to all the ways to keep track of what's happening in a clean, well-organized format. It's your go-to spot for weekend schedules, live leaderboards and results for all three national series. Each week, the upcoming track will be featured with facts, photos and ticket links for fans to learn more about that week's venue and see the races live. The new NASCAR .com homepage will launch in January, but take a sneak peek now with the video at the top of the page. Any feedback? Let us know at sitefeedback@ nascar .com.
One crew member reinstated, one suspended by NASCAR
NASCAR reinstated crew member Michael Casto on Tuesday after he successfully completed NASCAR's Road to Recovery Program. Casto was a crew member with Stewart-Haas Racing 's No. 4 team and driver Kevin Harvick when he was suspended after the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, the August Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International . Ryan D. Hess, a crew member with BK Racing , was placed on indefinite suspension on Tuesday by the sanctioning body.
Check out the new and improved look for NASCAR .com
The new-look for the NASCAR .com homepage improves mobile, live-event experience.
NASCAR may get 'the Boot' at Watkins Glen
RELATED: Learn more about Watkins Glen " Course breakdown by turn WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Now that Watkins Glen has started repaving its racing surface, running "the Boot" may be back on the table for NASCAR races. The current configuration of the Glen for NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races eliminates the Boot, which contains Turns 6 through 9, and shortens the course from 3.40 miles to 2.45 miles. But with repaving already having taken place in the Boot, smoothing the bumps in that portion of the track, NASCAR is considering running the full Grand Prix Course, which currently is used for the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. "We could," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told the NASCAR Wire Service before Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. "We're discussing it with the track. It's something we're looking at down the road." Even with the addition of the Boot, Watkins Glen wouldn't be the longest road course on the NASCAR rotation. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which hosts the XFINITY Series, measures 4.048 miles.
NASCAR unveils huge social media effort surrounding Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- At heart, we're all racers. That's the crux of NASCAR's massive marketing and social media platform surrounding Sunday’s Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), one that includes activation on Twitter and Snapchat and gives fans a chance to win prized race-used memorabilia by "racing" each other in the Hashtag 500. In an integrated marketing campaign titled Ready.Set.Race, combining television creative and social engagement, NASCAR seeks to highlight the racers in all of us. "When you're a kid riding a bike and racing the other kids in the neighborhood," says Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president, marketing and industry services. "Or when you're at the gym on the treadmill, and you're trying to secretly race the person next to you. "To us, all that just reinforces that love of racing, and what better way to get your racing fix than watching or attending a NASCAR race. We're absolutely focused on that in our television creative, but this digital and social component, where we're encouraging fans to race each other during one of our events, is a new and innovative way to make that love of racing come to life." MORE: Race-day experience elevated with Snapchat partnership During the Daytona 500 , fans wishing to compete for race-used memorabilia must watch the FOX broadcast (pre-race coverage starts at noon ET) and follow @ NASCAR on Twitter to receive a custom hashtag for each of 10 memorabilia items. Once each hashtag is unveiled, the 500th person to tweet that hashtag in concert with #DAYTONA500 will win that race and the prize that goes with it. That's not the only aspect of Twitter's expanded support around the Great American Race. Other activations will include the use of Vine and Periscope; Twitter Moments; @ NASCAR tweets featuring such celebrities as John Cena, Florida Georgia Line and Ken Griffey Jr.; Twitter Mirror, a tablet based application where celebrities pose for their own photos; and infield branding in Daytona International Speedway . RELATED: Exclusive Daytona content via Twitter To help tell the story of what it's like to attend a NASCAR race, Snapchat will at least double its Live Story coverage of NASCAR events in 2016, beginning with Sunday’s Daytona 500 . "(There will be) a curated stream of photos and videos submitted by fans at the race, and Snapchat will provide people outside the race track and outside the sport an inside look at what NASCAR's all about." The thousands of submitted Snaps from each event will be curated and packaged by Snapchat into a video stream that is shared globally with Snapchat's more than 100 million daily active users right on their mobile devices. Each NASCAR Live Story will be available to view on Snapchat for 24 hours. Facilitating the social media engagement is the recently completed $400-million Daytona Rising project, which transformed the Birthplace of Speed into the first true motorsports stadium. One of the many benefits of Daytona Rising includes enhanced WiFi capability designed to heighten social media engagement of fans at the races. In addition, broadcast partner FOX is asking fans to submit video content from Daytona 500 week for inclusion in a crowd-sourced documentary titled "100,000 Cameras," to air on FS1 in late February. NASCAR also offers a full range of digital and mobile products offering fans everything from in-car cameras to driver audio to social feeds and fantasy scoring. RaceView , for example, provides a 3-D representation of every car and track, real-time driver stats and multiple viewing angles for each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in real-time. Last year, NASCAR set a record with 1.1 billion page views across its NASCAR .com website and digital platforms, a 20-percent increase over 2014. "We know that our core fans are engaged quite a bit with these (social and digital) platforms, and we know younger, more diverse fans are users of these platforms," Gregory says. "So for us it's a win/win, because fans across all our segments have a way to engage with NASCAR ."
Bobby Isaac joins NASCAR Hall of Fame Class 2016
RELATED: Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame In a different era, in which stock cars driven to and past their limits didn't break with frequency, there's no telling how many races or championships Bobby Isaac might have won. Isaac, the 1970 NASCAR premier series champion, won 37 of his 309 starts. But he was a DNF -- did not finish -- 129 times. His 49 poles rank 10th all-time, with 19 -- a still-standing, single-season mark -- coming in 1969. Only 38 drivers have won 19 or more poles in a career. Nobody ever had to tell Isaac to "stand on it." "Bobby was a never-give-up kind of guy," said Buddy Parrott, a member of Isaac's No. 71 K&K Insurance Dodge crew and a 49-time winner as a premier series crew chief for NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip among others. "Bobby had no fear." Isaac's accomplishments are such that he'll join the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 along with Jerry Cook, Terry Labonte , O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Their induction will take place Jan. 22 in Charlotte, N.C. The ceremonies will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET by NBCSN. Isaac, born on a farm near Catawba, North Carolina in 1932, saw his first stock car race at nearby Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and at age 17 bought a 1937 Ford and put roll bars in it. He flipped the car on the race's second lap but that didn’t dampen his desire. Working at a variety of low-paying jobs, Isaac began racing the NASCAR late model sportsman circuit. He survived but sometimes just barely. "One time I drove 200 miles to drive a fellow's modified car with $4 in my pocket," he once said. "I figured that I'd have enough to buy gas and get down there and eat a hot dog before the race. The gas was $3 but I had to put two quarts of oil in my car so I was broke when I left town. When the feature started my stomach was not only growling but I didn’t have enough gas to get back home. "I drove that car as hard as I could and won. I had to win." Isaac, described by some as "mercurial," went sportsman racing fulltime in 1958, driving for Ralph Earnhardt. He won 28 feature events, competing against the likes of NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and David Pearson. Isaac, at age 28, competed in his first premier series event in 1961. Driving a Dodge for Ray Nichels, he won his first race in 1964 -- a 50-lap Daytona 500 qualifier in which he edged Jimmy Pardue in a photo finish after Richard Petty ran out of fuel. With factory-supported teams jumping in and out of the sport in the mid-1960s, Isaac went from top ride to no seat at all. His fortunes changed in 1968 when he was hired by Indiana insurance magnate Nord Krauskopf and paired with legendary crew chief Harry Hyde, whose larger than life persona was captured as Harry Hogg in the film "Days of Thunder." Over the course of five seasons, 1968 to 1972, the trio's "Poppy Red" Dodges won 36 times -- 17 alone in 1969 when Isaac won 17 times in 50 starts. Bedeviled by 19 failures to finish, Isaac wound up sixth in the championship standings. Isaac "only" won 11 times in his championship season, but the DNFs were reduced to just nine. The K&K team is remembered best for its winged Dodge Charger Daytona, the needle-nosed, high rear-wing version of the standard Charger. Remarkably, Isaac visited Victory Lane only once in that model, at Texas World Speedway in 1969, his 20th career win and first on a superspeedway. "We won a lot of short-races, but we couldn't pull it all together on the big tracks until the last race of the season," said Isaac in Greg Fielden's book " NASCAR : The Complete History." "Winning the championship gave me personal satisfaction, but I'd rank it second to the Texas win. "The way I look at it, it took me seven years to win a superspeedway race and only three years to win the championship." In September 1971 the team took its winged car to the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah where Isaac set 28 speed records, including a 217.368 mph "flying kilometer" mark. "That car weighed 3,900 pounds and it had 650 horses in the motor," Hyde told Car and Driver's Bob Zeller in May 2002. "And when Bobby set it sideways, it looked like a hydroplane on water. He came by at 200 mph broadside with a big rooster tail of salt comin' out the back." Driving part-time schedules for a number of owners, Isaac ran his last premier series race in 1976. He returned to Hickory Motor Speedway the following year where, on Aug. 14, he pulled out of a sportsman race feeling ill and was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to heart failure at age 45. Isaac was inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1979 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1998, NASCAR honored him as one of its 50 Greatest Drivers of all time. Tickets are available for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Ceremony (limited quantities available). Individual ticket and ticket packages are available at ticketmaster.com, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Box Office or by calling 800.745.3000.