NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 22, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
STEVE PHELPS: License, merchandise sales which is in the Top?10 of our drivers there, and I think she'll continue to rise, particularly now that she's over at the Spring Cup level. Nationwide Series, fantastic series, our No. 2 series, but you know, the biggest stage obviously is our Sprint Cup, and so having her come over to the biggest stage of NASCAR and run a full season, run for a championship, is in that Sprint Cup Series, we think is going to be very meaningful.
Q. When you talk about quantifying it, is there a number, anything that jumps out at you that, boy, we're here now, we were here before? STEVE PHELPS: I think it's difficult to quantify because there are a lot of different story lines and individuals that things that happen within the sport so there are different variables. So it's hard to say, hey, specifically, this was about Danica. We can measure and we do measure kind of the size and interest of that particular driver and quantity it through merchandise license sales or look at what we do through a television ratings standpoint. Hard to know what those ratings would have been without her, so it's difficult to quantify. Obviously the dialogue that comes with it is around her winning the pole or whatever that might be is certainly is something that we see as meaningful.
Q. What about winning the pole, can you talk about what that has done? What kind of impact has that had? STEVE PHELPS: Well, if you look at just the media coverage she's been able to garner since Sunday, the massive amount of time she's spent with the media over the past three days has been fantastic. So it takes it just outside of just sports and brings us to other areas as well. You know, as we head into our largest race of the year, Daytona 500 on Sunday, and you look at the number of casual fans that watch this race, the most number of casual fans we'll have all year; she helped certainly accelerate what was already shaping up to be an incredible Daytona 500.
Q. She also is on front pages other than just the sports section and she's bringing in media that does not conventionally cover the sport. STEVE PHELPS: That's exactly right. You look at USA Today on Monday, she was on the front page above the fold. That's huge. She was on GMA, CBS This Morning, on and on and on; so we are outside of just the sports pages, to your point. We are digitally, print, radio, television, everyone is interested in the fact that she made history on Sunday, being the first female to qualify for the Daytona 500. And not just that, a female that already has a massive fan base; a woman that's got a great following already. So those two things in combination with history?making, as well as just an incredible fan base that she brings interest to the sport.
Q. It's an interesting demographic she attracts, it's like all the demographics, men like her, women like her, and despite her sexy edginess, moms still like her, little girls still like her. STEVE PHELPS: I have two girls and I have one of them that races go?karts and she's thrilled that Danica is doing so well and has won the pole, actually watched qualifying with my daughter and two of my boys.
Q. How old? STEVE PHELPS: She's 12. You're right, you've got a fan base, her fan base cuts across male, female, young, old, multi?cultural. She is a marketing phenomena and one that obviously, as the sanctioning body, we are thrilled that she brought her brand and her personality and competitiveness to the racetrack.
Q. The producer at CNN told me, they said, we cover the Daytona 500 every year, but we are doing more live shots this year and I said why, and they said Danica, just from our producer's view. They don't cover heavy sports all the time. STEVE PHELPS: I think what you've seen, as well as you have that factor to be sure, but even you look at sports centre, and then the ancillary program that ESPN has, they have also ramped up their coverage, which is great for the sport. The more sports fans that we can have out there, who are not hard core NASCAR fans but those in kind of the casual set that will want to be engaged and tune in; and it's not just for the Daytona 500, it's for an entire season, so that's the buzz that will sustain over that time period.
Q. Prime time duels next year? STEVE PHELPS: That's certainly not something that?? a call that I would be making. But we'll?? listen, there's always discussion about the schedule and the timing. We'll see where that thing nets out.
Q. They are going to be?? STEVE PHELPS: Did we announce that already?
Q. They did announce that. STEVE PHELPS: Oh, they did? Oh, good. Well then I don't have to be cagey about it. I think it's fantastic for the sport, I really do. You're going to?? any time you're able to run in primetime, it increases the interest; your hut levels are hire, the home season television levels are higher and that's obviously a positive thing for the sport. I'm glad we announced that, wasn't aware that we had, but that will be?? I think it will be amazing. And watching the drama unfold in primetime, as opposed to the middle of the day. If you look at the traffic on NASCAR.com this afternoon, there will be a lot of people into the race on NASCAR.com, which is great, but certainly having it in primetime is a big deal.