France, Dewar Meet the Media

Brian France

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France along with sanctioning body president Brent Dewar addressed several topics Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France along with sanctioning body president Brent Dewar addressed several topics Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
THE INTRODUCTION OF STAGE RACING

Dewar: “I would say obviously it's a work in progress.  We started with -- we've got a very involved industry, and we try to put a process in place to get the best inputs to allow us to make the best decisions.  We started with the manufacturers, the OEMs, and then we went to the team owners and the drivers and the tracks, and then we come together collaboratively, bring all those things together, and you see some of that hard work.
                
“The biggest challenge is getting away from day to day racing and try to get strategic mid  and long term, and that's been a lot of the focus of the councils, and I think one of the projects this year, one of the outputs, is we sat back and said, look, what are we trying to solve for.  Our fans love green flag racing, and motorsports is one of those few sports where you actually break to commercial during the race, and I give the team a lot of credit.  We obviously need the commercial aspect of that with our broadcast partners. So they sat down and created what you know today as the stage racing.  More green flag racing, more side by side, we call it NASCAR nonstop with the commercials, and the fans are eating it up.”
 
THE RETIREMENT OF VETERAN STARS AND YOUNG DRIVERS

France: “They are here, and they've got to develop their performance, but they're doing well.  You look at Ryan Blaney, you look at Chase almost making the final here in Miami.  Go down the list.  We've got a loaded group. 
                
“But it's true, we're in a transition, too.  But that happens from time to time.  Not usually in the concentrated manner that we have now, but it happens. But we're excited.  We've got a great, great bunch of -- 19, 20, and they're talented, so we're in good shape.
 
NASCAR’S TRANSITION AND FUTURE INITIATIVES

France: “Well, I'm really more optimistic right now, and I know you may expect me to say that, but we've made the transition largely.  We've gotten the council meetings going.  We've gotten charters in position so we can get our interests aligned more closely with drivers, OEMs and the charters and the team owners.  We have the young drivers already in place.  We'd like a couple more, of course.  We've got some diversity with Bubba Wallace going in the 43 car.  We like that.  We'd love to see more of that.  And we like all the changes that we've made in the last four or five years, including stage racing this year. 
                
“It has created the things that we thought were important. Now, there are things out of our control, how millennials and other fans of ours are consuming not only our sport but all the sports.  That's obviously a challenge for everybody.  Attention times, the platforms they want to view and consume, they're changing.  TV is still    always will be linear TV, critically important, but other things now will give us a great opportunity, and we're positioned well there.  But it's true, there is always disruption when you have the kind of changes on a macro level in sports, and then couple that with our transition stuff, it's understandable.”
 
DRIVERS LEAVING BECAUSE OF SPONSORSHIP CHALLENGES

France: “The reality is, as Brent said a minute ago, Matt (Kenseth) has had a long 20 year plus career.  That's unthinkable in most sports, and he's performed at a high level.  We'll wish him well, but he may be back, too.  He'll have to get the right opportunity for him. 
                
“And the rest of it is a performance sport.  If it's difficult for anybody    this is not picking on any one driver, but if you're not performing at a high level, it may be difficult for you to stay in this sport.  It will be difficult for you to stay in the sport, for any driver.  That's not picking on anybody. I think for those reasons, that's where we're at.”
 
Dewar:” I think the big difference is we've always had this.  It's gone for decades.  The difference is now we have a mechanism of working together and a process to do that, and we're all in; from tracks to teams to drivers, we're all in, and we're trying to focus on the sport, the business behind the scenes, and just continue to make continuous improvement to do that.  I'm making it sound easy, it's really hard.  It's really, really hard.  At the end of the day, they're racers.  Race car drivers want to win and team owners want to win, and we want them to win.  We want to cultivate and nurture that as much as possible, but there's still a business behind all these sports, and we need to make continued improvement on the business side.”
 
MORE SHORT TRACKS ADDED TO SCHEDULE

France: “Well, I think you always have the realignment possibilities, the places like Iowa and other things, other places, that always could be.  Things are always fluid in the track world.  They're buying tracks, developing sometimes, and lately it's been pretty quiet because of the economy, but that all could change around, and we'll see how that goes.  But we love short track racing.  It's one of my favorite things to do.  As a matter of fact, I think this right here from a racing standpoint is the best mile and a half because of the progressive compound banking, and you'll see drivers in four different lanes all day long.  This is the most exciting    for my money, it's my personal favorite.  Everyone has got their own favorites.  But we love short track racing, and we'll have to see how that goes.”

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