NASCAR’s Brian France answers fan questions on radio show

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NASCAR Chairman Brian France praised the elimination-style Chase format, said he’s not for retiring car numbers and reiterated the sanctioning body’s stance on not taking a win away from a team that fails postrace inspection.

France made the comments during his annual appearance on Motor Racing Network’s “NASCAR Live’’ on Tuesday night.

France addressed many subjects during the 60-minute show, taking some questions from fans and others from host Eli Gold. Among topics discussed:

On the Chase format, France said: “It’s probably the single-best decision that we’ve ever made as an organization to adapt the first-ever, elimination-style in auto racing format. The reason is it’s bringing out the best in the best drivers in the world. They’re racing harder, they’re racing more aggressive. And it’s not just the drivers. It’s the teams. They’re taking more risks.’’

On if NASCAR should retire car numbers – such as the No. 3 used by Dale Earnhardt or the No. 43 used by Richard Petty – France said: “The teams build a lot of their value around that number. Richard Childress is a good example. He’s got a lot tied to Richard Childress Racing with the 3. We’re inclined not to do that.’’

On why NASCAR doesn’t strip a win from a team whose car fails postrace inspection, France said: “We prefer always to have when you leave the track to have witnessed the full race, including the winner. That remains our goal. We believe we can punish and deter. If there’s some infraction of significance – rarely happens but sometimes it does – we believe that without taking the win away, we can certainly punish someone effectively and we can deter it in the future from happening again. Sometime, by the way, these infractions are not intentional. That can happen frequently. A team will just have something that they missed by just a little bit and gets them out of balance in an infraction. It probably didn’t mean anything in terms of the performance. We wouldn’t want to take a win away in that case, but they made a mistake and we want to put the proper punishment forward. That’s how we’ve looked at it historically. We like how that feels and works.’’

On Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville last year in retaliation for their contact at Kansas, France said: “I was very disappointed and that’s about as nice as I’m going put that. … I’m a big fan of Matt Kenseth in general. What we’re not going to tolerate is intentional, changing the outcome of either a race, or in this case a championship. We are going to draw a line, a very clear line. That’s our credibility. If that is tested in the future, it will be a very harsh response on our behalf.’’

On finding a new series sponsor with Sprint leaving after this season, France said: “The opportunity is great, and it’s going well. 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 also said that the excitement of last season is creating momentum for the start of this season. He said work continues with the owners in creating a charter system in the Sprint Cup Series that would guarantee most teams a starting spot in the field.

He said that “over time” there could be more short-track races in the Camping World Truck Series. When asked about Cup racing internationally, France said “with the new ownership model that’s possible that is coming, that also will make some of those opportunities a little easier to look at.’’

NASCAR Awards: Scene on the red carpet

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community gathered at the Music City Center to commemorate the 2022 season and celebrate Joey Logano‘s second Cup title.

The event can be seen at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock.

Here is a look at the scene on the red carpet before Thursday night’s NASCAR Awards:

Joey Logano and Brittany Logano (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Ryan Blaney and Gianna Tulio (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kyle and Samantha Busch (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Chase Elliott (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Alex Bowman and Crystal Marsh (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Tyler Reddick and Alexa De Leon (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Denny Hamlin and Jordan Fish (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Daniel Suarez and Julia Piquet (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Chase Briscoe and Marissa Briscoe (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Christopher Bell and Morgan Bell (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Austin Dillon and Whitney Dillon (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kyle Larson (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

William Byron and Erin Blaney (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kevin Harvick (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Ross Chastain and Erika Turner (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Austin Cindric (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Kurt Busch (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

Harrison Burton and Jenna Petty(Photo: Dustin Long)
Mario Andretti (Photo: Dustin Long)

Chase Elliott wins NMPA Most Popular Driver Award

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chase Elliott won his fifth consecutive NMPA Most Popular Driver Award on Thursday.

The announcement was made during the NASCAR Awards at the Music City Center. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock.

Elliott is one of only five drivers to win the award since 1984.

Bill Elliott won it from 1984-88, 1991-2000 and 2002. Dale Earnhardt won the award posthumously in 2001. Darrell Waltrip won it in 1989-90. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won it from 2003-17. Chase Elliott has won it every year since.

Noah Gragson was voted as the Most Popular Driver in the Xfinity Series. Hailie Deegan was voted as the Most Popular Driver in the Camping World Truck Series.

Kevin Harvick to make decision on future by Daytona in February

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick says he’ll know by Daytona in February his plans beyond 2023.

Harvick’s contract with Stewart-Haas Racing ends after the upcoming season. 

Harvick said Thursday before the NASCAR Awards that “it could go either way at this particular point” on what he’ll do, but he affirmed that “going into Daytona, I’ll know what I’m going to do.”

The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 19. Harvick anticipates making an announcement by then.

“We’re at a point where everybody needs to know what’s going on,” Harvick said. “There’s too many tentacles to everything that happens. Whether it’s the race team, driver management company, every element needs to know. It’s not fair to anybody to have to start the season not knowing.”

Harvick turns 47 on Dec. 8. Next season will be his 23rd in Cup. His debut came a week after Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. Harvick was selected by car owner Richard Childress to drive for Earnhardt’s team. 

Harvick has gone to win the 2014 Cup championship and 60 races at Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s tied with Kyle Busch for ninth on the all-time Cup wins list.

Harvick won two races last season. His victory last August at Michigan snapped a 65-race winless streak. He followed that by winning the next weekend at Richmond. 

Harvick has won at least two races in nine of the past 10 seasons. He has scored 41 of his 60 Cup wins since he turned 37 years old.

“Kevin, I think, is probably the No. 1 leader of the drivers, as he should be,” two-time Cup champion Joey Logano said Thursday. “He’s been around the longest. He’s very accomplished. He’s very smart. He’s been through the ups and downs. He’s lived it. There’s wisdom in experience. It’s great to hear his opinion on where we are as a sport.”

Harvick’s business interests include a management company that represents Cup drivers Ryan Preece, Harrison Burton and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., along with other athletes. Harvick also has worked as a broadcaster on NASCAR Xfinity races for Fox Sports, earning positive reviews. 

Harvick’s son Keelan, who is 10 years old, races and has competed in karting in Europe. 

“He’s got one more race in Italy … and then we’ll start all over again,” Harvick said of his son.

Harvick went overseas after the season finale at Phoenix to watch Keelan race.

“I think he’s definitely matured a little bit since he’s been making these trips,” Harvick said. “I think it’s important to have that culturing aspect of life to be comfortable to do things like that anywhere in the world.”

The NASCAR Awards program airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Dec. 3 on Peacock. To sign up for Peacock, go here.

BJ McLeod, Live Fast team move to Chevrolet

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Driver/owner BJ McLeod and Live Fast Motorsports will race in Chevrolets beginning with the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Live Fast has been a Ford team.

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Live Fast is owned by McLeod, Matt Tifft and Joe Falk. Jessica McLeod, BJ’s wife, is the team’s chief operating officer.

“Our team is excited to make this transition to Chevrolet,” BJ McLeod said in a statement released by the team. “Chevrolet Camaros have proven great success on the track, and Live Fast Motorsports is looking forward to becoming a part of this advance.”

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The team will use ECR engines.

McLeod had one top-10 finish in 29 starts in the Cup Series last season.