France Discusses 2015 Schedule, More
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on July 5, 2014 | 7:16 P.M. EST
Brian France talks about the 2015 schedule and other topics with reporters Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR Chairman Brian France says there has been “robust discussion” about the 2015 schedule, and suggested that Homestead-Miami Speedway would remain the season finale.
Those were among the subjects France discussed in a 27-minute session with reporters before Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
France also addressed Cup drivers in others series, revamping souvenir row, Darlington’s race date for next year and if Iowa Speedway will host a Cup race.
France was asked about a tweet by Fox broadcaster Chris Myers, who speculated that Darlington Raceway could move to the second race on the schedule next year after the Daytona 500.
“It's a unique time because we're starting with a new television partner (NBC) coming next year,’’ France said. “There's been some weather issues, as you well know, in the last several years at Bristol as an example, and then some other things that we would naturally look at as we go along in the schedule, and now that the Chase format is changed, there's additional interest to move from one place to another.
“So there will be a robust discussion that will be for those reasons a more comprehensive look at what the best schedule will look like. I don't have any of the details today. We'll be releasing that in September, but it's fair to say that there's a robust discussion within the stakeholders to come up with the best schedule that we can for 2015 and beyond.’’
As for Homestead, France was asked if Ford’s contract extension to sponsor the track’s season weekend keeps it as the season finale for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
“There's nothing to preclude a directional change down the road, but, historically we've liked the fact that to do it in South Florida, the weather is great that time of year obviously, it's a good market for us, and the track, and this is an important thing, is by any definition, the best mile‑and‑a‑half track that the drivers believe that they have ‑ that they can really race hard and compete hard, and that matters, too, right,‘‘ France said. “When you factor all those things in, we're going to be in Homestead for the foreseeable future.’’
What about Iowa Speedway, a track NASCAR purchased last year? Will it get a Cup date soon?
“We don’t have plans for a Cup date there,’’ France said. “They’ve got a nice full schedule with IndyCar and Nationwide, and I think that’s where that remains.’’
France also addressed action on the track. He was asked about the dominance of Cup drivers in lower series and said that “we tend to let the events unfold the way they unfold.’’ France’s statement seemed to be a sign that the issue isn’t as big a concern to series officials as other matters.
Sports Business Journal recently reported that NASCAR was in the early stages of re-evaluating its trackside merchandise program. Now, drivers and teams have their own souvenir haulers, but one idea, according to the report, would be to create a more traditional retail concept such as tented stores.
“We really want to have higher quality merchandise available in more places and make it more convenient for our fans, and just how that gets done, the tracks and the teams and everybody else will come together and figure that out, but we do think there's probably some newer, better ways that we can merchandise to our fans,’’ France said.
France also talked about the high barrier of entry for new owners. No new Cup owner has had a sustained level of success since Michael Waltrip with his team.
“When we talk about rules packages that get us better racing, we're also talking about lowering the barrier to entry,’’ France said. “When we talk about the engine issue, which we've talked about lowering horsepower or whatever we're going to do, we're also talking about making sure that that engine is relevant to a new manufacturer who may in the current situation.’’
Is France seeing progress with enticing new owners?
“It’s been slow,’’ he said. “It’s hard.’’