According to Nielsen, ratings for NASCAR on Fox are down by an alarming 11.5% so far this year, and while we're sure that many NASCAR haters will suggest that it's just not that interesting watching non-stock "stock cars" turning left over and over again as they circle oval tracks, race organizers and TV ratings researchers believe there's much more to the decline in viewership than that.

Certainly, the sorry state of affairs surrounding the world's sagging economy doesn't help matters any, and neither did the rain that forced an early end to the Daytona 500, the sport's pivotal first race of the season. Paul Brooks, president of NASCAR Media Group, also points a finger in the direction of Dale Earnhardt Jr, who's second season as part of Hendrick Motorsports isn't exactly going as hoped.

Regardless of its downward ratings trend in '09, it seems most experts on the subject predict the NASCAR brand will pull through over the long haul, although it will be interesting to see if/how the auto industry crisis affects the cash-intensive motorsports series. In the meantime, NASCAR and Fox are reportedly "looking at every angle" to boost viewership in the short term.

[Source: Sports Business Journal | Image: Roger Smith]