SBD/December 6, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

France Focused On Improving NASCAR Product, Could Place More Emphasis On Winning

France hinted there could be a larger emphasis placed on winning in the future
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France on Thursday held his annual state of the sport press address in Las Vegas as the governing body "continues to work on improving its on-track product," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. France said, "Obviously, we want to get more lead changes, we want to get closer, tighter competition. I'd love a photo finish every weekend." France hinted that there could be a larger emphasis "placed on winning and changes coming to the qualifying process." France: "Do I think we have it perfect in terms of the right incentives to win? I don't think we do." He also "downplayed an overhaul" to the '15 Sprint Cup schedule when NBC takes over the second half of the NASCAR TV package. France: "There might be a change or two, but I wouldn't predict any significant changes." Meanwhile, F1 this week scheduled next season's U.S. Grand Prix in Austin for the same weekend as NASCAR's Texas Motor Speedway race in the fall, and France said, "Well, I wouldn't have done that myself. I'm sure they had the same kind of scheduling challenges that we do. They go all over the world, and that was what they chose. It wouldn't be my first choice. I expect them to suffer a lot more than Texas will suffer. I don't think it's good for either group or either series. That's their prerogative to schedule events when they want to and see how it works out" (AP, 12/5).

ATTRACTIVE ASSET: France said that the timing in NASCAR's purchase of Iowa Speedway "was right after the track went through several management and ownership changes." He said that the Iowa purchase "did not set a precedent." France: "It's an attractive asset in a region of the country that is very NASCAR centric, and they run multiple events for multiple series, they've had a lot of success" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 12/6).

TAKING A STAND: France also addressed the Michael Waltrip Racing manipulation scandal at Richmond Int'l Raceway and said, "I was very angry about it. I also knew ... if we dealt with it, if we dealt with it really straight on, that we wouldn't have a long-term blemish." He added, “It does test you a little bit. In every sport sometime in the cycle -- hopefully it’s very rare -- has a moment where these things happen. I like what our group did. In six days, investigate three different situations, rule on them, rewrite entire important rules.” France: "Our first priority was to deal swiftly, not let something linger into the Chase or get confused with that. The second was try to do the right thing, even if it wasn’t going to be the most popular thing. And the third thing that I found out in these kind of situations is trying to explain a solution in a very complicated set of circumstances is probably the hardest thing to do. But looking back, I wouldn’t change anything, and I’m not one of these guys that walks around and never says that. ... I knew that our credibility would be preserved if we did the right thing and we acted swiftly, and over time" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/6).
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