The New NASCAR: More Accidents, Fewer Injuries?

Sobel says that it can be a win-win situation for both sides of the spectrum. "It's probably better for both the industry and the fans," he said. "It lowers the number of injuries and ups the numbers of [minor] accidents."

Which makes the sport more exciting to its fans and TV viewers, NASCAR hopes. Long-time fans like Thomas Wells are eager to see NASCAR make an attempt to return to its traditional policies.

Wells started watching when he was 7 and was an avid fan up until things started to change. "From 1993 to 2003, there was just so much competition, just about anybody could win and there were lots of rivalries going on and it was just so much fun to watch," Wells said. "Then they started to change everything."

Video of President Obama welcoming NASCAR drivers, including Jimmie Johnson, to the White House.
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From bump-drafting rules to the addition of the wing to inconsistent start times for the races, Wells knew that the sport was changing. "It was really upsetting," Wells said. "I never fully quit watching but my ritual changed."

'I Had to Watch It Live'

Overall declines in attendance and viewership continued into 2009 and helped prompt NASCAR to make changes in part to draw back some of their old fans.

"It used to be I had to watch it live," Wells said. "But now I might not even go back and watch the whole race. It kind of scared me a little bit because it was such a ritual that pretty much defined me as a person."

Dwight Drum, a recent University of South Florida graduate, thinks that NASCAR is doing its best to bring back the sport's excitement. "This year they held town hall meetings and listened to what the drivers want," Drum said. "They've also opened up a lot of social media outlets to listen to the fans."

Drum is confident that this season's changes will help get NASCAR back on top of ratings charts and back into fans' hearts.

"As far as the bump-drafting goes, that's going to help the very spirit of NASCAR, the drivers will like that and I think it will transfer to the track," Drum said. "It's the same for the fans -- they really can't tell you what it is, but they can tell you that they like it."

Jared Ewing, a junior at Columbia College, has been dedicated to NASCAR since 1998. He never lost interest in the sport and is excited for the upcoming season. "There are new faces, old rules and old-fashioned speed. When the green flag drops at Daytona, we will be in for a great year," he said.

ABCNews.com contributor Allison Ignacio is a member of the University of Texas ABC News on Campus bureau in Austin.

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