As 2010 comes to a close, NASCAR.COM looks back at the season that was and forward at the season that's looming on the horizon with some Top 5 lists.
In Saturday's list, David Caraviello breaks down the five biggest issues facing NASCAR.
5. The sluggish state of sponsorship. The recession may officially be over, but the effects of it are still being felt in NASCAR's sponsorship market. Corporations are sitting on cash rather than spending it, forcing teams to cobble together packages containing several different sponsors, further depleting the pool in a sport where dollars equal speed. No one is immune -- even some high-profile cars, like those of Mark Martin and Ryan Newman, still have gaps for next year.
3. Maintaining the integrity of the Nationwide Series. NASCAR's Triple-A series is in an awkward position -- it needs Cup stars to get attention, yet needs available seats to develop the drivers of the future. Lately, that combination has been skewed severely toward the former, driven by sponsors who want big names on their cars, and leaving some young drivers without an opportunity. NASCAR is looking for a way to restore balance, possibly by banning Cup regulars from title runs.
2. Changing the Chase, or not. NASCAR continues to explore possible tweaks to its championship playoff format, trying to ensure more galvanizing moments like the race that ended this past season. It's a touchy subject, given that excitement is never exactly guaranteed regardless of the format, and many drivers are uncomfortable with the idea of changing the Chase a second time in four years. NASCAR wants what's best for the sport, but it doesn't want to create a gimmick, either.
1. The decline of TV viewership. NASCAR racing has never been better, the championship race was the most riveting in recent years, and still television viewership tumbles. NASCAR chairman Brian France correctly points out that these things are cyclical, but the decline in TV ratings has to concern brass in Daytona Beach. More importantly: the current TV deal runs through 2014, which means the decline could cost NASCAR money in renegotiations if it doesn't correct itself before then.