Notebook: France Addresses Media

43626Jpg
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France held his annual mid-year "State of the State" press conference Friday at Daytona International Speedway. The media grilled France on several issues surrounding the sport, including the condition of the U.S. Economy as it relates to NASCAR; on-track competition; the status of Maurcia Grant's lawsuit against NASCAR; the implementation of drug testing in the sport; and, the possibility of adding the Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 under the NASCAR umbrella.

ON AMERICAN CAR MANUFACTURERS STRUGGLING: "They're going through a difficult time right now. I'm not going to read into all of their issues, but their long-standing position in NASCAR seems to work well for them. They're part of this sport because it's so unique and different for them. We'll just have to wait and see. I wishy they were more healthy, and, at some point, they will be again. It will take a while for them to get back on their feet, but they will again."

MAURICIA GRANT LAWSUIT: Naturally, there are a lot of other things we would like to be sitting up here and dealing with. Lawsuits take on a life of their own. It's going through the court system. We will be defending ourselves very vigorously. We're almost complete with our investigation. We've talked to 25 or 30 people, and we have a good handle as to what we think the claims are and what the conduct of Ms. Grant and NASCAR's employees were. We'll sit tight on that right now."

ON NASCAR DRUG TESTING: "We acknowledge that there are some different circumstances going on than when we originated our policies on that. We don't expect any dramatic changes to it. Obviously, lifetime suspensions are the ultimate deterrent. There are some very strong parts of our policies that we'd like to preserve."

BRINGING IN NEW OWNERS AND SPONSORS: "We're going to be very aggressive in trying to recruit new owners. I don't subscribe to the idea of four cars per owner with a limited amount of owners. Part of the new car concept was to bring the barrier of entrance in the series down. The cars are cheaper to own, and you have less expertise needed to field a competitive team. But, the jury's still out on that. We have to do what we can to attract new owners to field competitive teams in the future. That's what makes us work. The more competition, the better off we'll be. That starts with me and the organization."

ON THE ROLEX SERIES: "It's an exciting series, it sure proved that last night here at Daytona. If we can add a lot more to NASCAR by making it officially under the NASCAR umbrella, it's something we'd like to do. We're not there yet, but it's something we'd like to do."

Stewart Question Enevitable
Rick Hendrick grimaced at the question.

"Did you talk with Tony Stewart at all about him driving for you next year?" a reporter asked the Sprint Cup Series team owner Friday afternon during a press conference announcing Mark Martin as his driver in the No. 5 Chevrolet for 2009.

Hendrick, who has won seven Sprint Cup Series championships as an owner, didn't evade the question, but didn't offer a direct answer, either. It has been rumored that Stewart is looking to opt out of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing, one that runs through 2009.

Stewart hinted last weekend at New Hampshire that, if Hendrick were to offer him a ride, it would be a difficult one to turn down.

"Tony and I are good friends, and I respect Tony a ton," Hendrick said. "I know what Tony said last week perked you guys in the media up. Joe Gibbs and I are good friends, and you'll have to stay tuned to see what happens with that. Mark Martin is our deal. I'll say what Tony said about me. He's the kind of guy you would love to have sitting in the seat of your car."

Rumors have Stewart linked to Haas CNC Racing, a deal that could offer him partial ownership in that team.

Respect for Almirola
Had a full-time opportunity for Hendrick Motorsports not come along for 2009, Mark Martin said he would have been content to run another partial schedule for Dale Earnhardt Inc. But, then, he said that wouldn't have done Aric Almirola justice.

Almirola, who has split time in the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet with Martin at DEI this season, is a burgeoning driver that Martin said deserves a chance to show what he can do. DEI announced earlier this week Almirola would drive the No. 8 Chevrolet full time in 2009.

"It would not have been fair to Aric Almirola had I returned to DEI next year," Martin said. "The right thing for me to do was to get out of his way. Aric deserves to drive a Sprint Cup Series car next year, without question."

Rookie Class Dwindles
The once-formidable list of contenders for Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been reduced to four. Dario Franchitti was cut from the list this past week after team owner Chip Ganassi shut the No. 40 Dodge team down due to lack of sponsorship.

Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr. leads the race for Rookie of the Year with 162 points, followed by DEI's Regan Smith with 157, Patrick Carpentier with 129, and Michael McDowell with 110.

Photos

  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • GEICO 500
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • From the Archives: Talladega
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500
  • Bank of America 500

Advertisement

  • © 2014 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites