Earnhardt sag hurts ratings

Despite all the drama, NASCAR still has problems getting fans to watch. TV viewership continues to slide from last season.

Talladega is the latest example. Last year's run attracted 6.6 million viewers. It dropped to 5.17 million viewers this season. There are a lot of reasons floating around as to why ratings are down, and many of them are viable.

But the biggest reason from my perspective is that Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport's most popular driver, continues to be the real "Mr. Irrelevant." He hasn't won a race in 34 tries, and his average finish is 18.4. He finished 25th at Texas.

Petty struggling: Richard Petty remains in limbo trying to find a way to keep his sports racing team in business.

"What that something is I don't know yet," Petty told reporters before Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. "We thought it was (done) last week. Last week we thought it was the week before. Still in limbo."

Petty has been seeking investors to help regain majority control of Richard Petty Motorsports from George Gillett. Gillett's financial issues came to light a few weeks ago after the sale of his Liverpool soccer club. Although the group still has the means to close out the season at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedway, any viability beyond that is in peril.

"I don't know what we have to do to make it work," Petty said. "Until we figure it out, can't do nothing."

Literally in chase: Here's a sobering stat if you're a Jimmie Johnson fan: He trails Denny Hamlin by 33 points in the Chase for the Cup, marking the first time since 2005 Johnson hasn't been the points leader this deep into the season.

"Well, the last four years we have been in a different position," Johnson said after the race in Texas. " I have lost plenty of championships in the past, and this is racing. It doesn't come easy, and you are not going to get what you want every single year and every single weekend.

"I can promise you this. I am trying as hard as I can. I know my team is, and we are doing everything we can."

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