There is alot more to it than just ticket prices. I'm an old school fan but I don't watch it much now. I don't like the COT, 1 body for all makes just doesn't make it interesting anymore. I miss the old days of Rusty Wallace complaining about the Chevys, or Dale Sr. griping about the Fords. I don't like that the drivers can't speak their minds without getting a fine/penalty. The France familys changing rules whenever a popular driver gets in trouble.
Too many races on the schedule as well. The chase hasn't worked out as well as they hoped too. Ect.......
This is what happens when you stop watching. The CoT has been gone. So has the loss of car identity... Well more on that in a minute.
I've been a Nascar fan since the 80's but can still only speculate about things like this.
Economy - It definitely took it's toll. I don't have numbers but the turn around was very extreme between the 2008 and 2009 seasons when the economy went south. It was plainly obvious looking at the seats on TV.
Product - Frankly it's pretty lame. Points racing, follow the leader, 500 mile races with only 100 miles of actual racing, no more good ol boys, the playoffs(i.e. chase), cars all the same (no brand identification) etc etc. Now some of these are new, some have always been there but either way there is more of this crap than there used to be. Not helping draw in new fans as older ones naturally move on to other interest. IMO, Nascar made some bad choices including trying to make stock car racing something for the masses (Everyone remember the Canada and Mexico races they've been trying to shove down our throats?). The masses aren't coming and the rednecks are leaving.
Personally I'd rather watch the trucks race. They take some handling out of it, add some bangin, shorten the race so there isn't so much follow the leader, etc, etc.
I had a brain storm a year or two ago the coincided with the all star race. They need to take some of the cookie cutter mile and 1/2 tracks and get back to the roots on some of em. Go back to heat races, B mains, A mains, etc. Toss qualifying out the window. Not all races but a handful or two. Sure it will tear up more equipment because the amount of racing would quadruple and the owners would hate it. That is until those races became the most watch events on TV and fans actually came back. Then they'll love it.
Well 'have at it boys' is back.. has been for two seasons. There have been serious fights, on and off the track, battles and rivalries, etc. Old-school war is back. Even good-old-boys like Gordon got into the middle of it.
Cars have definite brand identification now. Even the Fords have an actual grill (that keeps coming off the first few races, caused a few issues). But the cookie-cutter car is no more. Nore is the matching bumpers and train-drafting. Bump someone and you will lift their rear. Daytona/Talladega have been quite interesting when drivers forget not to lock up.
I agree the 'chase is crap. Needs to go away. So do the auto-lockin spots and manufacturer's spots. Qualify or don't race, period. OR I agree, heats again like the small tracks. Hell ya!
Still the CoT was crap. Bad idea. They ditched it. Kudos. So were the handcuffed rules for everything. Now they go at it. As long as they don't endanger someone (driver, spectator, etc.) they pretty much get free run. Almost scary actually. Ironically, drivers I didn't like before have matured and are being very nice now and some other mature drivers are losing their minds at times... Quite interesting.
Drivers are speaking their minds as long as they don't diss the sport itself somehow. But they are talking a lot of smack about each other and manufacturers. It's interesting all over again.