NASCAR hopes for boost after big swings at spicing it up (The Associated Press)

February 17, 2017

FILE - In this June 30, 2016, file photo, Dale Earnhardt Jr. gestures as he speaks during a news conference before the start of a NASCAR Sprint Cup auto racing practice at Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Fla. NASCAR has a new sponsor, a new format and a familiar face this year in its bid to rebound from declining ratings and attendance. The next 11 months will show if Dale Earnhardt Jr., Monster Energy and different rules can provide the needed jolt.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

NASCAR has a new sponsor, a new format and welcomes back its most popular driver, all providing optimism for a series eager to halt a steady decline in attendance, ratings and sponsorship. The on-track product for the stock car series officially reports for work Friday at Daytona International Speedway, which hosts the Feb. 26 season-opening ”Great American Race.” It will kick off a season of hold-your-breath, we-really-hope-this-works efforts by NASCAR, the networks, tracks, teams and drivers to turn things around. This season begins with Monster Energy roaring into its debut year as title sponsor amid promised marketing to millennials and the opportunity to lure new eyeballs to a sport with an aging audience.

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