Brian France Addresses 'State of NASCAR' on NASCAR RaceDay Many Topics Covered During Final Race of Season NASCAR President Brian France joined the NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED crew during the NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami...
Brian France Addresses 'State of NASCAR' on NASCAR RaceDay
Many Topics Covered During Final Race of Season
NASCAR President Brian France joined the NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED crew during the NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past weekend. France addressed the state of the sport, and what to look forward to in 2007 and beyond.
Host John Roberts led a panel of questioners which included drivers Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace, along with former crew chiefs Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammonds. Here is what France had to say:
Roberts: This is quite a scene to have all three of your touring series complete their seasons here at Homestead.
France: I can't think of a better place to have the finale than here in south Florida.
Roberts: It's been the buzz around the garage area, and around the shows we've been doing, USA Today, front page Wednesday afternoon, you see the headline, 'After 15 Years in the Fast Lane, NASCAR Slowing Down.' I'm sure you are aware of those numbers, is it cause for alarm?
France: I think they know part of the story. There's no question ratings are down a little bit, off of historic highs of last year. Ratings on your network (SPEED) are up; Truck ratings are up, qualifying is up, lots of things are up. The truth is; I think a little bit is anticipation for '07. There are so many things that are going on, but they all happen in '07. Not taking anything away from this year, but we have Juan Montoya (who made his Cup debut at Homestead) and he'll be full time. You've got Toyota entering the series. You have a different network package in the second half. You have the car of tomorrow. You have a lot of things that are building some anticipation for '07. We're excited about it.
Spencer: You made a change that had everyone saying, 'Man Brian, why would you do such a thing.' Now, we have all the people saying that it's not exciting. How can you think that they would even say that?'
France: When you get a little criticism, that's part of it. But look, the racing is good, we're really happy with it. It's side by side, its NASCAR style. I think the 'car of tomorrow' is going to, at least, give us better racing. With the testing that's been done, it's already showing that.
Wallace: They said that having Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Jeff Gordon in the Championship Chase would make everything euphoric -- and it didn't. Junior said to shorten the races. You have always said we can adjust. Have you ever looked at shortening the races?
France: We have shortened races from time to time -- Dover is an example. Let me give you one statistic, this year, out of 34 events, NASCAR was either number one or number two as the largest sporting event on television. Nobody needs to have a pause for concern. We're a sport on the move and we have a lot of things for '07 that I think there's a little lull before the storm. The racing is good.
Spencer: Why are people against this 'car of tomorrow?'
France: People just don't like change by definition. In fairness, we have to get the car out and they have to get comfortable with it. It doesn't bother us to hear various points of view. Listen, we have a lot of people with various points of view. Our fans have opinions, big opinions. Drivers certainly do, and we can't make every decision with everyone in total agreement.
McReynolds: I did read something in that article (USA Today) that (John Roberts) mentioned - that I guess I never thought about because I'm here all the time - but maybe the length of the schedule, going Valentine's to Thanksgiving, do you think maybe the schedule is too long?
France: Larry, I'm going to let you tell one of these tracks that host one of these events that they are coming off the schedule. We've always had a long season, but I think it works to our advantage in a lot of ways. It gives corporations a chance to market to a 10-month season. Now, we only have one event per week. We don't have 180 games, or any of that business. I think we're okay and things are just fine with the length of schedule -- and the racing's great.
Hammonds: The Busch Series champion was decided many weeks ago. I think you need to make some adjustments to at least that series to make sure you come in here and have a little bit more of a competitive deal. Do you see some things in the Busch Series to make that happen?
France: We have looked at it and we'll continue to look at it. We like the uniqueness it gives the Nextel Cup, that's the premium series, obviously, in motorsports. We like to distinguish the divisions when we can and crowning the champions is one way of doing it. We'll take a look at it, but we're pretty comfortable with things right now.
Wallace: Do you think some people are jealous of NASCAR's success? And are quick to point it out when NASCAR falters a little bit.
France: It's always a thing with the media...
Wallace: Why would it make the front page of USA Today?
France: I thought their timing was really poor - crowning our champions this week. I thought that article was inaccurate and the timing was bad. Look guys, its one article and everybody wants to pile on. I don't think any of these fans here today are worried about what the USA Today says.
SPEED, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2006, is the nation's first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 73 million homes in North America, SPEED is among the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country and an industry leader in interactive TV, video on demand, mobile initiatives and broadband services.