Brian France Happy With Direction Of NASCAR; Rain Mars Daytona Weekend
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France on Saturday said that he is "happy with how the Sprint Cup’s new Chase for the Cup format is working," but he also "mentioned the sport continues to grapple with continued declines in ticket sales," according to David Scott of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. France addressed the state of the sport prior to the Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400, saying, "We can all see the benefits of changing the (importance of) winning and it has changed the racing on the track. Drivers are telling us that. They’re taking different chances. We expect the racing to get better and we certainly like the format.” France said that "fan-friendly renovations" such as DIS' $400M "Daytona Rising” project will "help stop a six-year slide in ticket sales for the sport." France said, “We’re talking about lowering the barrier to entry. Lowering the cost of racing, getting parity where teams can come in and have success and making ourselves more relevant to manufacturers and partners is all part of the NASCAR model. It’s been slow and hard" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/6). Meanwhile, France said a "robust" discussion will go into setting the '15 schedule. The AP's Jenna Fryer noted a "revamped format to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this season, coupled with NBC taking over the second half of the television schedule next season, gives NASCAR an opportunity to make scheduling changes." But France said that there are "no current plans to award a coveted Sprint Cup race to Iowa Speedway." France also indicated that the Sprint Cup season finale is "staying put for the 'foreseeable future' at Homestead-Miami Speedway." The track recently "extended its sponsorship agreement" with Ford through at least '19, with an "option to extend" through '24. France: "We've liked the fact that to do it in South Florida, the weather is great that time of year, it's a good market for us" (AP, 7/5).
WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS: In Daytona Beach, Dinah Voyles Pulver noted rain "forced an early end to the Coke Zero 400 and interfered with much of the weekend’s racing action." The race, originally scheduled for Saturday night, was pushed to an 11:00am ET start yesterday and then was shortened due to more rain. DIS President Joie Chitwood III said, “We did the best we can and hopefully our fans understand that we want to see a lot of great racing, too, but we’ve got to make sure we’re good stewards of the sport and provide the right environment for that.” He added of not finishing the race due to the threat of more rain later in the day, “I think we had all the right information in front of us and made the best decision we could." But Chitwood said that "aside from the weather," he was "pleased with the weekend." Chitwood: "I think our fans got a little over three hours of some pretty good Cup racing." He added that he was "pleased they got the Lee Brice concert and the fireworks show in Saturday" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7). Also in Daytona Beach, Ken Willis writes, "You're always risking a rain issue when you plan outdoor activities in summertime Florida. ... Still, let's keep beating the drum to move Daytona's 'other' race to September and the start of the Chase" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/7).