France Answers Questions On 'NASCAR Live'

Brian France

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France addressed a number of topics during MRN’s “NASCAR Live” on Tuesday night. (Photo: Getty Images)

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“NASCAR Live,” one of Motor Racing Network’s signature programs, kicked off its 33rd season on Tuesday night with an in-depth interview featuring NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.

France took questions from host Eli Gold along with race fans, who participated by calling 1-800-2-NASCAR or sending in a question via Twitter at @MRNRadio.

France addressed a number of topics during the one-hour show as NASCAR readies to embark on the 2016 season beginning with discussions between the sanctioning body and Sprint Cup Series team owners on a charter system.

"We have had a lot of good conversations with our owners over the past many months,” France said. “I don’t have to tell you how important they are as a key stakeholder with NASCAR. We are always trying to do is look at their particular interests and to see how we can make it work better. That could mean a lot of things...It could mean their ability to operate in a very expensive sport more efficiently. It could mean helping in lots of ways to create value for their teams.

“That's what we are doing, we are having those kind of conversations that we hope will lead to a better outcome where the ownership experience is better. They are able to field better teams at a higher level and they are able to participate in a more meaningful way with NASCAR. I always say if there's things we can do for our stakeholders that makes the sport better at the same time we are going to make a strong effort to figure that out."

A listener asked France what his father and grandfather would think of the “Daytona Rising” renovation project, that will debut at Daytona International Speedway during the upcoming Speedweeks events.

"My dad would have been thrilled with the racing because that was so important to him,” he said. “I think they would feel really good about what's happening in Daytona because the facility, the fan experience, things that they fought hard to do with limited resources and couldn’t take some of the risk that we could try and take today. I think they would be over the moon with how things look for the sport."

The new season will see Scott Miller taking the role of Senior Vice President of Competition replacing long-time NASCAR official Robin Pemberton. France sees the addition of Miller as a benefit.

"He's bring a fresh perspective, current fresh set of eyes on to what the teams are up against from an engineering standpoint,” France said. “He’ll play a critical role as we try to bend the cost curve down the right way for the owners and all the teams. He'll also play a very significant role in the other important item, which is making the racing from the packages that we bring forward every year to tighten the racing and make it as close and competitive and safe as possible. He's already making an impact in our organization and he'll do a great job."

The 2016 season will be the final year for title sponsor Sprint in NASCAR’s top division. France addressed how negotiations are progressing with potential replacements for Sprint beginning in 2017.

“The opportunity is great, and it’s going well," he said. "I think we’re talking to the right people on where things need to end up. We want to be selective, too. This is perhaps the most marque position in sports because you literally get to entitle your brand within the entire sport and that’s so unique. It’s going really well.’’

France believes the title sponsor should remain the name of the series’ championship trophy rather than renaming it after his father or grandfather.

"I haven’t thought about that,” he said in response to a question about naming the title trophy the "Bill France Cup." "Our preference is to have a partner that helps us promote, invest and grow the sport. That’s the direction we are going to go today."

Other subjects covered during the show included:

Adding more short tracks back to the Truck Series:

"I think we will. I think over time there will be some additions and that series loves to go to short tracks, dirt tracks. I was there in the early days out in Tucson and I used to run that speedway way back in the day. The Camping World Truck Series is alive and well and will look at other opportunities from a venue standpoint that make sense."

Drivers keeping race wins despite cars or trucks failing post race inspection:

"We would always prefer to have when you leave the track to have witnessed the full race, including the winner and that remains our goal. We believe without taking the win away we can certainly punish someone effectively."

The idea of NASCAR retiring car numbers:

"We only have 43 teams period and the other leagues have 100s of players and we are a little different in that way. The teams build a lot of their value around that number. Richard Childress is a good example where he has a lot of tie to Richard Childress Racing with the '3'.

Strategy changing during the new Chase elimination-style system, which enters its third year in 2016:

"I think more. It's never been done in auto racing and a lot of people thought it couldn’t be done...or it wouldn’t change a lot. Some drivers though, 'hey we are racing as hard as we can, we want to win one week to the next.' The reality is it has changed everything and all for the better because they are all moments where you have to win right down to the final race. You are seeing the strategies, the crew chiefs taking additional risks - that might be in the setup, calling of a specific event. Now you are even seeing how do you get from one round to another. One thing for sure with this new format you better get going quick, and a win solves a lot of problems in the new format."

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