France Sees Positive Start to 2012
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on May 22, 2012 | 9:30 A.M. EST
France spoke with the media on All-Star night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
NASCAR CEO Brian France is encouraged by the direction of the sport and reaffirmed the sanctioning body is committed to improving the on-track product.
There are a number of initiatives already in play, as well as on the horizon, that France believes will positively impact competition.
"Listen, we have a new car coming in '13, so we want to make sure we're as good as we can be in terms of the on-track quality of racing,'' France said over Sprint All-Star Race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We're putting more effort in to get that right, and we also get thrown curveballs like we have with tandem racing that fans didn't care for as much.
"So from time to time, we have big things that affect the quality of racing. We just want to make sure we're able to get at those solutions faster, better. And our group is going to get that done.''
The All-Star Race was the first on-track test for a new rules package that saw the side skirts of Sprint Cup cars raised in an effort to promote side-by-side racing.
But France promised additional changes, if necessary, in order to ensure the best possible product. The NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C. is poised to play an even more prominent part in the development of both the new Sprint Cup car as well as the enhancement of competition.
"Our goal is to always take moments with new cars and new opportunities to make the racing better,'' France said. "Obviously, we're focused on safety. That's a given. But we're zeroing in on if there's an aero issue. From time to time, there's going to be other issues that we're able to get at those faster.
"You're going to see the R&D Center take a much more active role in everything from performance on the track to innovation. So we're looking forward to that.''
France acknowledged the task of taking in feedback from a variety of factions including the fans and making the best possible decisions for the sport moving forward. While fan input remains an important element in the equation, the sanctioning body is confident the best determinations will be made to keep NASCAR moving in the right direction.
"We are very attuned to the fan base, as you guys know, with the fan council and everything else,” said France. “We look at it a lot of different ways. We look at things very carefully. We have a hard job, but it's our job to put rules forward that allow the best competition.
“That's what we've done for 60-plus years. And it's not getting any easier with all the technology and great teams and great innovators in their own right in this garage area. We're zeroed in on what we have to get done."
France also commented on the performance of Danica Patrick and what she’s accomplished during her first full-time NASCAR season.
"She's brought visibility to the sport, which we knew she would," France said. "More importantly, she's made improvements. That was her stated goal, and she's been getting better and better. I think her runs reflect that, and that'll be what determines her impact in the end -- how well she competes."
While some fans have bemoaned the limited number of caution flags or the lack of a driver feud or two spicing things up in the drama department, France is satisfied with where things stand in NASCAR 2012.
"It's been a good, solid year,'' he said.