Denny Hamlin via NASCAR YouTube

NASCAR Cup Series driver and owner Denny Hamlin recently shared his idea of a mid-season bracket challenge, a suggestion he made to NASCAR over a year ago, to fix the current waning TV ratings.

Denny Hamlin via Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Dirty Mo Media YouTube

NASCAR’s TV ratings had been on the downturn for much of the beginning of the season compared to last year, but have slightly rebounded with the two most recent races at Martinsville and Talladega.

Sportsnaut reports the Daytona 500 dropped nearly 8% in the ratings from last year, only bringing in 8.181 million in February. The trend would continue with the races at Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Richmond Raceway, and Bristol Dirt all seeing their TV viewership decline compared to last year.

And it wasn’t just small declines either. The races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Circuit of the Americas, Richmond Raceway and Bristol Dirt all declined by over 12%.

Christopher Bell spins out William Byron during the Federated Autoparts 400 at Richmond Raceway via NASCAR YouTube

RELATED: Kevin Harvick Addresses NASCAR’s Declining TV Ratings: We Need To “Try To Make Sure We Have Stars”

While the beginning of the season saw significant declines, the two most recent races at Martinsville and Talladega did see an uptick with Martinsville seeing its viewership increase nearly 18%. However, it was still the least viewed race of the season only bringing in 2.218 million viewers.

Talladega saw its viewership increase by 5%, but as Sportsnaut notes that’s primarily because the 2022 race’s viewership numbers were adjusted down by over 300,000 viewers. It was originally reported the 2022 race brought in 4.682 million viewers. However, they adjusted that down to 4.336 million. Thus this year’s viewership of 4.554 million actually beat out last year’s.

Bubba Wallace leads on the last lap during the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

In order to fix the declining viewership, Denny Hamlin shared his suggestion of a mid-season tournament in the summer months on a recent episode of his podcast Actions Detrimental.

RELATED: Kyle Busch Describes Late Race Cautions As “Complete S**tshow”

Hamlin explained, “We’re gonna have a bracket challenge. We’re gonna wait ’til 10 weeks into the year. … You have 10 weeks to get yourself in the top 32 in points. So leading into that you can have the storyline of … who’s going to get in the top 32 to get in this bracket challenge, right?”

“Then for the next five weeks — and maybe you do it every other week, but I think you need to do it every week — five weeks in a row where you have a head-to-head competition and you’re seeded based off of where you are in points at week 10,” he continued.

Denny Hamlin passes JJ Yeley during the NOCO 400 at Martinsville via NASCAR YouTube

He then explained, “So the number one seed is whoever’s first in points. They will be going up against the 32nd place guy in points this week. So on so forth. Second will go against 31. Third will go against 30. And so you have these 16 match ups for this week coming up at Dover.”

“And, certainly, what that also does is create, now, you have some betting lines. You’ll probably have Vegas make odds on who the tournament winner will be,” the driver and owner detailed. “They’ll probably have odds on the matchups this week. So there will be 16 key match-ups that will go on this week in Dover. Whoever wins between the two moves on to the next week and that moves you on to the round of 16. Then you’re going to have head to heads once again. 16 down to 8, down to 4, down to 2.”

Moments before Kyle Larson wrecks on the last lap of the Daytona 500 via NASCAR YouTube

RELATED: Bubba Wallace Takes Blame For Late Race Wreck: “I Pulled A Late Block”

“I can tell you as the drivers are concerned we would be wildly competitive for this,” Hamlin relayed. “The reason is there is a big prize at the end, but not only that, but our egos. This is an in-season tournament. We have them in basketball. We have them in even, I think, NFL or football is talking about doing something like this or having some sort of bracket challenge.”

“This would create so many story lines and you would have no idea how much the teams would change their strategies in the middle of the race to beat whoever they’re up against that given week to move on to the next round. So many opportunities for storylines here,” he reiterated.

Kyle Busch via NASCAR YouTube

Hamlin then offered his ideas on what the winner should receive, “And what I think is that you could do it many ways, but I think that there should be a monetary win of $3 million for the winner. I know that seems like a lot, but the return on investment would be tenfold for NASCAR from the publicity they would get.”

He elaborated, “Content that would be created on two drivers head-to-head this week. Who’s going to win? Even Fox or NBC could have a ticker on the right side, just put it on the far right or something of, ‘Okay the five car is going against the seven car this week, here’s where they’re running right underneath.’ So we always can see where these head-to-head matchups are during the race. And you can see, ‘Oh s**t! We got a head-to-head matchup and they’re running seventh and eighth.’ I guarantee you those drivers are going to move each other out of the way to move on to the next round because they know they’re racing against one car that week.”

Denny Hamlin during Grid Walk at NASCAR Cup Series Race at COTA via Skewcar YouTube

Later in the video, Hamlin also suggested the winner could receive playoff points too, “I’m really adamant about this. This could be a game changer for us that would come with very small investment. And maybe the winner gets five playoff points.”

“I think you certainly have to add a monetary element to this and it needs to be significant. It can’t just be $100,000,” he added. “I love this idea. I really think that NASCAR should explore it, or think about it. I think it’s fantastic.”

Denny Hamlin intentionally fences Ross Chastain at Phoenix Raceway via NASCAR YouTube

What do you make of Denny Hamlin’s idea? Would you want NASCAR to have a mid-season bracket challenge?

NEXT: Denny Hamlin Expresses Frustration With The Martinsville Package And The “New NASCAR”

Mentioned in this article:

More about: