Poll: NASCAR loses out to hot dog eating contest

COKE ZERO 400 AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) in crash at 2011 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashes in the 2011 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway as shown in the 1st video. The 2nd video highlights his big win in the 2001 race.

DAYTONA BEACH -- In the wake of yet another no-name driver winning at Daytona International Speedway and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s post-race tirade about the state of restrictor-plate racing, a pre-race poll taken by ESPN showing sports fans prefer the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest to NASCAR's weekend racing speaks volumes about the waning interest in motorsports.

Click the link to see how sports fans voted among the 50 states in the ESPN "sportsnation" poll: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/fp/flashPollResultsState?pollId=116294

The poll taken the day before Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway asked: "Which is the best Fourth of July weekend sports tradition?" It gave four choices.

Topping the nationwide list of ESPN sports nation responders was a tie between MLB games and Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Both garnered 18% of the vote.

Tied for last among the four choices were "Breakfast at Wimbledon" and "NASCAR at Daytona," each with 13% of the overall 26,204 respondents on ESPN.com.

It's understandable that NASCAR's July 4 weekend races featuring the Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 would not measure up to Major League Baseball. But to finish that far behind the hot dog eating contest?

That speaks volumes about the waning interest in NASCAR.

Earnhardt was miffed after his late-race crash in Saturday's race and the reliance of the drivers on the two-car tandem needed to generate enough horsepower to stay completive in a race. The problem is in the last lap, those alliances fall apart, which leads to the large amount of cars being wrecked.

That situation makes it that much more difficult for stars like Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson and Tony Stewart to win. David Ragan won his first-ever Sprint Cup race in Saturday's crash-marred Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Another no-name driver, Trevor Bayne, who won for the first time at the Daytona 500 back in February, now has earned the notoriety of having the worst showing in the mid-summer race for a Daytona 500 winner in the same season when he crashed less than than five laps into the race.

Earnhardt, mired in a 110-race winless streak, said after Saturday's race: "What kind of move can you make? I mean, Jesus, man. What kind of freakin' move can you make racing like this? There are no moves to make. You're just holding on trying not to wreck each other, and we saw how good we are at that."

Earnhardt, mired in a 110-race winless streak, said after Saturday's race: "What kind of move can you make? I mean, Jesus, man. What kind of freakin' move can you make racing like this? There are no moves to make. You're just holding on trying not to wreck each other, and we saw how good we are at that."

Fans hoping to see Earnhardt come away with a victory 10 years after his emotional win in the July race after the death of his legendary father, Dale Earnhardt, in the Daytona 500, left disappointed.

Many of Earnhardt's fans blamed his tandem partner, five-time reigning Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, for leaving Junior on the track by himself, prompting Johnson to tweet after Saturday's race: "You people are crazy. When my crew tells me to pit, I pit. Steve and Chad sort out the details."

Earnhardt finished 19th and Johnson 20th. Among the other high-profile drivers, Jeff Gordon finished sixth and Tony Stewart, 11th.

NSBNews.net, also known as VolusiaNews.net, provides Volusia County 24 / 7 Internet newspaper coverage, 100% free with breaking news, news of record and investigative reports from New Smyrna Beach, FL, for a 21st-century digital world.

 

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com, launched in 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among Florida's most experienced reporters specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting and winner of multiple state, regional & national journalism awards in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut. The first of his three books, "Creepy Ass Cracker" (842 pages, Xlibris), hits bookstores this Fall. 
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