Pocono: Round 14 preview

Dr. Mattioli Reflects on Bill France Bill France Remembered Truex Jr. Nears Chase Position Mattioli and France Families Share Special Relationship DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 5, 2007) -- Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway will be a somber event...

Dr. Mattioli Reflects on Bill France
Bill France Remembered
Truex Jr. Nears Chase Position

Mattioli and France Families Share Special Relationship

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 5, 2007) -- Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway will be a somber event for the entire NASCAR community. The passing of NASCAR Vice Chairman Bill France has touched competitors, industry officials and fans alike. Among the many places France's impact will be felt is Pocono Raceway.

"I've made mention a number of times that without Bill France Jr., Pocono Raceway wouldn't be here today," said Dr. Joseph Mattioli, CEO & Chairman of the Board for Pocono Raceway.

For the Mattioli family, the relationship with France went beyond that of business associates. Dr. Mattioli and France shared a 35-year friendship that started over a home-made meal.

"Bill invited me down to his house in Daytona Beach for a meeting in 1972," Mattioli said. "I had problems with my connecting flight and ended up in Orlando. Bill flew his plane over to pick me up and had me stay for dinner with his family that evening. Betty Jane made Southern fried chicken -- the first time I had ever had it -- and we talked all night. That is when we started our personal relationship."

The relationship between the two blossomed into a friendship that never wavered. The bond between the friends created a trust that carried over to the business world.

"One thing people don't know is that for the last 25 years, I've never read a sanction agreement," Mattioli said. "When NASCAR comes up here, I ask them if our track is being treated like everybody else. They always look me in the eye and say 'absolutely'. I flip to the last page of the agreement and sign it and give it back. That is the kind of relationship we have."

Truex Jr. Nears Chase Position; Gains Potential Bonus Points

With his win at Dover International Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) became the second first-time winner in as many weeks. Over the past four races, Truex has climbed from 20th in the standings to 13th -- the highest he has been since February 2006.

More important for Truex, he is only eight points behind Mark Martin (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) for the 12th, and final, position in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. If Truex ascends into the top 12, he will start the Chase with 10 bonus points because of his win.

Bill France Remembered

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Bill France Jr. Bill was a legend in the world of NASCAR whose passion and vision for stock-car racing led the sport to the national prominence it enjoys today.

"Bill brought racing's excitement to millions of new fans through his steadfast and innovative leadership. Bill also helped ensure that the NASCAR community found many ways to support the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with the France family."
- President George W. Bush

"Simply stated, Bill France Jr. was one of the greatest visionaries of our sport.

"Bill France Jr. took our sport to the next level. He continued his father's vision and guided our sport through a period of tremendous growth. His vision built relationships with corporate sponsors and television partners. That helped build our fan base that reaches far beyond just the southeast. These are his greatest accomplishments.

"His vision, knowing what he wanted NASCAR to become and be, has made NASCAR a national sport. We should all be fortunate for Bill France Jr. and his dedication to the sport we love. I raced under Bill France Jr. for 20 years. He treated every competitor fair and with honesty. He was not only a trusted leader, but a good friend who will be truly missed."
- Richard Petty

"Bill France Jr. was more than a good friend of mine. He was a legend in motor racing. NASCAR and motor racing worldwide would not have seen the growth and prosperity it has without Bill's vision and determination. He single-handedly made it the reality it is today by understanding what the fans wanted and by creating an environment where on-track competition was king. Bill also understood and encouraged the automobile manufacturers to become a major part of the sport. I personally loved the opportunities I had to sit with him, discussing racing, business and family. He had a wonderful perspective on everything going on around him. Everyone at Ford, and me personally, lost a great friend today."
- Edsel B. Ford II, Ford Motor Company

"Like his father before him, Bill France Jr. was a pioneer and will be remembered for so many contributions while growing stock car racing into a national pastime during NASCAR's modern era. We offer our condolences to his wife, Betty Jane, his children, Brian and Lesa, the rest of the family and all who mourn his loss."
- George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports

"I've never seen anyone who could strike the balance that Bill did. He knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish and rarely compromised, yet always made it a point to be fair. We've lost a strong leader, a visionary businessman and a truly amazing person. Bill was one of the toughest guys I've ever met, but he had a soft side, too. Words cannot express how much his friendship and support meant to me and my family during the most difficult of times. We shared a love for the ocean -- fishing and telling stories -- and it's those moments that I'll cherish forever."
- Rick Hendrick

Special Decal

Cars in all NASCAR touring divisions will have special decals this weekend in memory of Bill France. The decal, which will placed on the C-post, will be on cars in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Pocono Raceway, NASCAR Busch Series at Nashville Superspeedway, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway and NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Bill France Milestones

* Apr 4, 1933 -- William Clifton France is born in Washington D.C.
* Sept 20, 1957 -- Weds Betty Jane Zachary
* 1966 -- Named vice president of NASCAR
* Jan 10, 1972 -- Named the second president of NASCAR, replacing his father
* Feb 18, 1979 -- First live flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500, by CBS
* 1981 -- Named CEO of International Speedway Corporation
* Dec 1981 -- Post-season awards ceremony is moved to New York City
* 1989 -- Every event in NASCAR's premier division is televised for the first time
* Aug 6, 1994 -- The inaugural Brickyard 400 is held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
* June 19, 2003 -- Sprint Nextel Communications announced as sponsor of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
* Oct 2003 -- Hands roles of Chairman and CEO of NASCAR to son Brian
* June 4, 2007 -- Passes away at age 74

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Richard Petty , Martin Truex Jr. , Mark Martin