NASCAR Officially Along For The Pay Fantasy Ride
There have been fantasy games set up around NASCAR for years with little to no success. The thought was always that with such passionate and engaged fans, a regular schedule and tons of data that the sport was a natural fit for fantasy. However individual sports were slow to gain traction in traditional fantasy, but all that has changed since the pay model has come into vogue.
Golf officials see pay fantasy as a way to engage a younger audience, and while tennis officials still worry about “gambling” and the fact that their game is more global, where fantasy has not yet caught on, there remains more interest there as well. Now it looks like NASCAR is in whole hog, announcing an official deal with DraftKings on Thursday.
Through the three-year agreement, DraftKings will have an exclusive license to develop NASCAR-branded games across the daily fantasy sports category. According to the release, DraftKings will have access to a direct data feed from NASCAR Digital Media that contains real-time statistics which will create all kinds of gaming opportunities for fans watching live on any device, and perhaps most importantly, at the track.
“Pursuing ways to connect with our fans on a daily basis while enhancing their viewing experience has been paramount to NASCAR, and fantasy sports is a core tenet of that strategy,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer in a release. “We are committed to growing our fan base, increasing engagement and diversifying our audience and partnering with DraftKings will strongly support all of these efforts.”
It will work this way. In each game, participants are assigned a fixed salary cap they can use to draft their entire roster, comprised of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Scoring categories in DraftKings NASCAR daily fantasy sports games will include finishing position, fastest laps, laps led, position differential and passing differential. NASCAR games on DraftKings will provide fans the opportunity to win one-of-a-kind NASCAR prizes and VIP experiences. DraftKings will offer two different types of NASCAR-themed games – a free game for casual players and paid games for avid followers of the sport.
The success of pay fantasy in NASCAR will not be overnight, as like every sport adapting to the culture will be key. There is no certain way to know how much illegal gambling goes on in and around races, although casual bets are known to take place around every track. What is certain is that NASCAR has a very engaged fan base which is very brand loyal, and if that translates into pay fantasy, DraftKings may be racing towards the checkered flag in yet another sport.