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.’’