France Answers Fan Questions

Brian France

NASCAR Chairman Brian France took fan questions during Tuesday night's "NASCAR Live" program on Motor Racing Network. (Photo: Getty Images)

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NASCAR Chairman Brian France discussed shorter races, midweek events and the new Chase during his appearance Tuesday night on Motor Racing Network’s “NASCAR Live.’’

France appeared on the show with host Eli Gold and took questions from fans, discussing a variety of subjects.

Asked about shorter races, France said: “We think that shorter races in general makes sense. Sometimes a specific venue or a track believes differently, and they have their own fan base and research that says, ‘Hey we like a 500-mile race on this particular weekend’ or in the case of Charlotte a 600-mile event. Generally speaking, we’re very open to working with the tracks and the local markets … to shorten races whenever it’s possible and we will continue to do that.’’

One notion that has been discussed in recent years has been the idea of a midweek NASCAR Sprint Cup race. France talked more of the challenges of such events than any possible advantages.

He said no track operators want to trade a weekend race for a midweek event.

“The other challenge that we have, we don’t have home teams, we rely on 80,000-100,000 or even more to make a weekend out of something and drive on average 200-plus miles and often stay more than two days and often bring their families,’’ France said. “When you start doing that … those kinds of opportunities to draw people to these big venues, these big speedways becomes more difficult.’’

As to the idea of a road course in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, France said neither of the two road courses on the circuit are willing to trade their dates. France said that officials are not opposed to it but doesn’t see it happening soon.

While the Chase provided some memorable moments, not all fans were happy with the format that saw drivers eliminated every third race. France said any changes to the Chase would have to keep the format simple.

“We will be open-minded, but we want to balance making sure that whatever format we have that everybody understands it,’’ France said.

“Even if it can make it better, if it makes it a little more complicated, then it doesn’t really matter if it makes better because it’s too difficult for people to understand. What we have today is a very, very understandable format.’’

France also discussed how the sport will react to domestic violence issues. Dover Police stated Tuesday that it has completed its investigation of an alleged domestic violence complaint against Kurt Busch and forwarded its findings to prosecutors who will determine if to charge Busch.

“What leagues might have done in the past won’t be acceptable in the future and we will be no exception there,’’ France said. “We will have a strong and bright line and if that is crossed, you can expect us to be very, very aggressive with dealing with that. I know we have Kurt Busch as an example who is going through his allegation. We will watch that carefully and see what happens.

“What we wouldn’t do is try to get out in front a set of facts that hasn’t been determined by the court system. We will be careful in letting a fair process take place (before reacting).’’

France also said there is no specific timeline on when officials will sign a company to replace Sprint as series sponsor. Sprint’s sponsorship goes through the 2016 season.

“You want to be careful and you want to be selective and make a really good decision because that’s the critical partner that we have,’’ France said. “So it isn’t just even about financially getting everything right, it’s really about who is going to be in that position and is going to utilize the rights that are granted, which are enormous, really, really well.’’

France also was asked by a fan about ringing tracks with SAFER barriers.

“I’m in favor of SAFER barriers wherever they need to be,’’ France said. “If that’s the whole racetrack, that’s fine. If it’s just to put them when there’s no impact, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. That’s how we view it. It’s always under review. We typically do add quite a bit of SAFER barriers depending on what venue every year.’’

Another fan asked France how series officials determine when to penalize drivers for their comments.

“We try to give the most latitude of any other sport in terms of what our drivers and our other participants can say and do,’’ France said. “Where we take objection is when there … (are comments) derogatory toward the racing product. When that happens, we have to draw a line.’’

 

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