Richard Petty: Team owners want to know ‘who’s running NASCAR?’

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Richard Petty says team owners have a few questions for NASCAR Chairman and CEO, Brian France.

In a candid Q&A with Autoweek published earlier this week, the NASCAR Hall of Famer spoke on numerous topics within the sport as well as the upcoming presidential election. But it was Petty’s thoughts on France, who is not as visible in the garage as his grandfather Bill France Sr. and father Bill France Jr. were, that stood out when it comes to France’s current standing with team owners.

When asked if it matters that France works more behind the scenes, Petty responded, “the question from the owners is, ‘Who’s running NASCAR?’ I think everyone questions, ‘Where does the buck stop?’ His granddad and dad were there every (race weekend). They looked at it like, ‘We have to take care of the racers, but we have to take care of the fans, too.’

“I think Brian looks at it like, ‘What can we do to expand NASCAR? Not with the racecars, but with all the electronic crap and the social media stuff that’s going on.’ That’s not bad because we need to generate new fans, but I don’t know if racing – pure racing by itself – will generate that many new fans. Brian’s probably doing what he needs to do while we’re over in the garage wondering if he’s even paying attention to the racing. We know what we’re after, but we don’t know what he’s after.”

The seven-time NASCAR champion also spoke about Stewart-Haas Racing’s Danica Patrick, who he has criticized in the past. In 2014, Petty told reporters the only way Patrick would ever win a Sprint Cup Series race was if “everybody else stayed home.” He went on to say that her being a female is what makes fans pay attention, which is good PR.

Has his opinion of her changed?

“Yes,” Petty told Autoweek. “She’s marginally better. Because of her experience, she doesn’t get in as much trouble. But, no, she hasn’t made any drastic improvements.”

The full Q&A with Richard Petty can be found here.

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