DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In an unusual move because of its location and tone, NASCAR CEO and chairman Brian France admonished Cup drivers about blocking during Sunday’s Daytona 500.
France, who admittedly doesn’t make public proclamations about competition and has tended to deal with drivers in private, made the remarks during the prerace drivers meeting at Daytona International Speedway. Here is the full text of his remarks.
“It’s my one chance, too — my first chance, rather — to tell you …what, uh, starting our season, obviously this is a big event. This is our biggest event. And partly it kicks off, if everything goes accordingly, and this event rolls and goes, and we’re excited about that.
“But what I don’t normally do, and I’m going to do this today, is bring up a competition issue. This is for the drivers. And what I want you to think about. We realize blocking is part of racing. We understand that. We accept that.
“Do not look for NASCAR … when you block somebody out there, and it’s going to happen today. It causes almost all the big incidents. Do not look for NASCAR … you better hope there’s a Good Samaritan behind you who is going to accept that block, because they have that lane and the right to it. And I don’t often make those statements. But I think it’s important today as we go into our most important event to make that really clear with our competitors.”
France then transitioned into a welcome address for new title sponsor Monster Energy (“That said, we’re in the fun business,” he said.)
Defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin told NBC Sports that drivers hadn’t been warned about blocking recently and said he didn’t expect France’s warning to have an impact on today’s season-opening race.
Several crew chiefs and drivers smiled when asked about the purpose of France’s statement.
The past two days have seen several multicar pileups in the truck and Xfinity series, but only one appeared to have been caused by blocking.
Hamlin blocked Brad Keselowski while battling for the lead on the last lap of The Clash last week, but neither drivers were upset after crashing.