Kyle Busch on NASCAR Fans and What Has Changed Since the 90s

Busch stresses that NASCAR fans tend to bond with drivers, and it's precisely the stars of this sport that are the reason why fans come to the racetracks

by Sead Dedovic
Kyle Busch on NASCAR Fans and What Has Changed Since the 90s
© James Gilbert/Getty Images Sport

NASCAR is a sport that has historically attracted immense attention among fans. However, looking at the present times, there is decreasing interest in the sport among younger generations, including NASCAR. Nonetheless, NASCAR and many other sports still maintain high ratings, with hopes that it can continue in the future. 

Older fans mostly emphasize the legends of this sport, of which there are many, while younger fans tend to talk more about the current NASCAR stars. Whether one admires or respects the current or past figures, it's a fact that numerous legends have passed through NASCAR. 

Kyle Busch is certainly one of them. Many support and have followed him since the beginning of his career. Busch is a driver of top quality.

In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Busch reflected on NASCAR fans and the fact that much has changed in recent years. Kyle believes that NASCAR fans still focus on the names that dominated during the 1990s and led the way in NASCAR. This  great NASCAR driver believes that fans of this sport mostly do not consider current drivers as current or future legends.

“I’m not sure what it is, but you have the die-hard fans of NASCAR, of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Harry Gant … you name it — guys from the ‘90s, mid-90s, late-90s, all of that. Our world now, today, of 2024, is a lot different fan base that’s following along. I don’t feel like we were able to transition a lot of the fans that were fans of those drivers into a William Byron fan, into a Kyle fan or whoever.

They kind of all probably went away, just stopped following as much. Which is hard to say because honestly, when you look at NASCAR, the fans love the drivers. The driver star power, that’s what brings people to the racetrack, is the drivers.”-Busch said, as quoted by On3.

Busch believes that those die-hard NASCAR fans have probably stopped following NASCAR like they used to, and it's difficult for them to connect with any of the current stars. 

Let's be honest; Looking at the current NASCAR Cup Series roster, it must be acknowledged that there is a large number of quality drivers who show their skill from season to season. 

Busch stresses that NASCAR fans tend to bond with drivers, and it's precisely the stars of this sport that are the reason why fans come to the racetracks to follow the races week after week.

The emergence of social media in modern times has also changed many things. With the advent of social media, many things have become easier for fans. They have access to the lives of their idols, all statistics are available to them, as well as highlights and previous races. 

Today's NASCAR drivers increasingly complain about fans who often take the opportunity to criticize them on social media, using offensive language. The latest in a series of complaints from fans came after Dover. Some criticized Denny Hamlin and others, and it was Hamlin himself who spoke about NASCAR fans and their behavior via his Actions Detrimental podcast.

Hamlin explained that complaining seems to be a natural tendency for NASCAR fans, drivers, and media alike. He noted that if you look on Twitter, complaining is a common behavior, and he himself engages in it at times. He suggested that people complain for various reasons, such as if their favorite driver loses or if the race outcome isn't what they expected, like a side-by-side, photo finish at Dover, which is a rare occurrence.

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin© James Gilbert/Getty Images Sport

Denny Hamlin on the Dover race

Hamlin pointed out that historically, in some Dover races, there are typically only around nine cars on the lead lap, with a significant lead of about eight seconds. He recalled an instance where he crashed at Dover and was already back home watching the race's second half. He observed Kyle Busch's dominant performance, with only about six cars remaining on the lead lap. This wasn't due to pit sequences or other factors; Busch had lapped most of the field. Hamlin expressed uncertainty about what fans were hoping for in such situations.

Modern fans, not only of NASCAR but also of other sports, are unique in many ways.

Hamlin conveyed his desire for more variation in lap times due to tire wear. He highlighted that in the last run of 50 to 60 laps, there was only a one-second drop-off, which isn't significant. He noted that despite leading with lap times in the 23-second range, by the end of the race, everyone was running around the 20-second mark due to plateauing tire performance. 

Kyle Busch