Picking sides is a practice that certainly dates back to well before the Hatfields became the adversaries of the McCoys.

Sports fans have mastered the practice – and with good reason. Hoping one team beats another each time you’re watching a game makes it far more entertaining and fun. It can add a hint of equity to an otherwise meaningless match. Often, sporting events become rally points between friends – hoping you become a winner, while your buddy becomes the loser.

I get it. Outside of hoping the Jets and Patriots could both end up losers when they go head-to-head (Bills fan here), I usually wish one team beats another when watching any event. In baseball, I’m pulling for any team playing the Red Sox. In football, I like teams more than others for a multitude of reasons.

Picking a team is easy when the game consists of only two teams. But watching a race is much different, with as many as 43 drivers battling for a win.

How do NASCAR fans respond?

According to Taylor’s fourth Consumer Engagement Survey: NASCAR fans, avid fans find themselves “rooting” for nearly seven drivers who compete regularly in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

That means on average, a fan roots for 1:6 of the drivers who start a race – a number that has consistently increased in the years Taylor has conducted its . Having a broader field of drivers who you root for also increases the chances of feeling pretty good about the outcome of a race on any given Sunday. Simply put, it nets out to a better chance of rooting for a winner.

While NASCAR fans represent an unmatched collection of loyal consumers for all brands in the sport, they tend to be most loyal to those brands and sponsors who align with the drivers they cheer for. There lies the great news for brands. As the number of drivers a fan cheers for grows, so does the likelihood that your brand can be aligned with a driver that fans are pulling for.

Many brands have programs that utilize multiple NASCAR drivers. Common sense says that the opportunity to align with a driver who appeals to any NASCAR fan by doing so obviously increases.

While our 2011 Engagement Study is filled with noteworthy insights, tracking the “root for” statistic has been a great one to watch over the years. And just for fun, take a look at the roster of drivers that competed in the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and count the number of drivers people root for.