I have seen the future; and it doesn't include NASCAR. 

When ESPN leaves NASCAR as a partner at the end of this season, the sport will just about cease to exist on their flagship SportsCenter franchise. This is a future that is not hard to see.  Just look at how they treat the National Hockey League, now that they don't own their broadcast rights. They bury them in the show.

Last Thursday night, I was watching college football on ESPN and was watching the sports ticker at the bottom of the screen. To me, that's a place that we should get the latest news and scores. And, I don't object to them promoting some of their upcoming programming. In this instance, though, probably 70% of the information on the ticker was Saturday's Top 25 College Football Schedule.  On Thursday!

About once every 10 minutes, the NHL scores would roll across the screen; and it's their regular season. NBA pre-season action got about the same attention. The upcoming NASCAR races on ESPN got, maybe, a little more.

SportsCenter is already staffed largely by stick and ball folks. If there's no obligation to talk about racing, they won't. Even though NASCAR's new partners will pick up some of that slack, SportsCenter is still considered by many to be the outlet of record. And, to be missing from that will hurt a sport that is still pining to be as big as the NFL.