France Says the State of the Sport is Good

CHARLOTTE, NC – January 19, 2014 – The 2015 Charlotte Motor Speedway Sprint Cup Media Tour kicked off today with Brian France’s State of the Sport report. France outlined topics that NASCAR is working on as well as answered questions from the assembled media. A rosy picture was painted as the sanctioning body had one of its best seasons in recent memory.

The early part of the program was led by Steve O’Donnell, Executive Vice President of NASCAR. O’Donnell introduced France to the group, along with some opening remarks. He mentioned that NASCAR was proud of the technical changes for 2015 and how it was released early so that teams could adapt and prepare for the new season. The biggest question answered by O’Donnell was on the subject of side skirts.

Many fans noticed that some of the cars had bulging side skirts over both rear and front during pit stops. Many felt it was a competitive aerodynamic advantage. That will change in 2015.

“This year, we will attempt by any means possible to review this practice,” O’Donnell said. “When found, we will have the cars come back to the pits to correct this.”

For the first time, NASCAR officials will use tablet computers to keep data to police parts used by the teams. It will allow keeping of more information and help with the part approval process as well as make sure the playing field level is fair and equal.

France stepped to the podium to discuss the major accomplishments of 2014 and the outlook for 2015. As mentioned earlier, it was a look back at last year and an optimistic look at the future which included the following:

– The 10-year contract with Comcast’s Xfinity service to sponsor the former Nationwide Series, citing the belief that the sanctioning body’s desire to make partners feel comfortable that the technology level was at a point where they felt comfortable doing business.
– NASCAR’s ongoing concern with environmental issues had gained momentum and that this would continue for the foreseeable future.
– Communication with drivers, teams, and tracks would continue so that every stakeholder had a place at the table.
– Meetings with car manufacturers would continue, mentioning a meeting with all three at the recent car show in Detroit. Reinforced how vital they were to they were to the sport’s health. Mentioned there was a lot of give and take in these discussions, as there should be.
– Wished Jeff Gordon well on his retirement and congratulations on his strong season.

A question and answer session followed. When asked if there was a single greatest issue facing NASCAR, France pointed at the success of 2014 and said that he saw no glaring weaknesses. He was confident that the new rules were needed.

Asking a personal question didn’t seem to bother France. When asked if his leadership style was like that of his grandfather (Big Bill France) or his father (Bill France Jr.) he responded by saying while his grandfather led by consensus, his father was hands-on every day. France said that his style was different that either predecessor. He commented on the complexity of the job today with so many more talented people and complex issues.

When asked about in-season rules changes, France said, “Well, we try not to do too many in-season tweaks to any rules package unless there’s a safety concern because of cost. We judge it quite simply by lead changes, how close race winning is, how many different winners, how each car manufacturer is able to have a fair shot at competing, and there’s plenty of data to help us with that.” He continued saying, “It’s close, tight competition.”

France did say that every season could see some changes. “It’ll always evolve,” he said. Our job is to make sure that the playing field is level and that more teams have a good shot at competing at a high level, and given that it always changes, we have to change, too, and circumstances change.”

When asked about the Kurt Busch domestic violence issue, France was clear on NASCAR’s position on this important issue.

“We want to wait until all the facts are in. Every sport has the issue of domestic violence. You’re going to see us having much more severe action in dealing with that.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Ron Fleshmanhttp://www.ris-news.com
Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as www.motorsportsforum.com. He can now be found at www.ris-news.com. Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.

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