Brian France: ‘France Family locked and loaded in its dedication to NASCAR’

Getty Images

NASCAR Chairman Brian France said that despite reports of a sale of at least a stake in NASCAR, “The France Family is locked and loaded in its dedication to NASCAR.”

France made the comment Wednesday when he called into the “Tradin’ Paint” show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

France addressed many issues during his appearance. He discussed if the sport will put an Xfinity or Cup race at Eldora Speedway, the young guns and the possibility of more road racing, among other topics.

A Forbes story last month, citing unnamed sources, reported that the France Family was seeking only minority investors and not selling a majority stake in NASCAR.

Asked about reports on a sale of any part of NASCAR, France said: “Look, we’re focused on ruling and managing NASCAR. There’s nothing to report on that. Rumors are always interesting, but they’re seldom right. The France family is locked and loaded in its dedication to NASCAR.

On if he’ll be making a phone call to Tony Stewart in the near future to tell him that NASCAR is putting an Xfinity or Cup race at Stewart’s Eldora Speedway, France said: “Probably not going to have that phone call any time soon. The schedule is pretty full. He’s done a great job of running Eldora and other things he’s doing in the dirt track stuff, so good for him.”

On if the sport needs the young drivers to win more, France said: “I think for their interests, never mind the sport’s interests, if you’re Chase Elliott, you’re thinking about posting that win. If you’re Kyle Larson, you want to get more wins. Winning is everything in sports. So there’s no question about it. If they want to make their mark over time, they have to compete at a high level No. 1 and win No. 2.  … The first thing I tell a young driver, ‘Don’t be happy to be here because you’re here for a reason because you’re really good. Now convert that into high competitive finishes and ultimately wins and be here for a long time.’ If you can’t win, you can’t be here for a long time. They understand that.”

On the contact late in races for wins in Cup in recent weeks, France said: “We celebrate that. We don’t shy away from that. That’s the difference between us and probably every other motorsports. They kind of cringe a little bit. We kind of like that. Obviously limits and we’ve always said that. There’s no question about that. What we’ve seen two out of the last (four) weeks is great. We love it.”

On road racing and future plans of any more such races, France said: “By the way, I think we’re the best road racing show in town. I think we do a great job with that. I would see more of that not less than that. Don’t know exactly how it flows out in terms of the schedule, whether there will be rovals or this or that. I will tell you that road racing in general is more popular than ever. IMSA, our brand of road racing that we’ve been trying to do for a number of years, is more popular than ever, more manufactures are participating and I’m excited about it. My uncle (Jim France, vice chairman of NASCAR) has done an incredible job. He’s put his heart and soul into this thing and it pays of. It fits in NASCAR in the way we do road racing … flat out to the floor and lots of pushing around and close tight racing and safe. That’s what we do.”

 and on Facebook

Alex Bowman confident as he returns to racing from back injury


CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman watched the rain-filled skies over Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday with more than a touch of disappointment.

As weather threatened to cancel Saturday night’s scheduled NASCAR Cup Series practice at the speedway, Bowman saw his chances to testing his car — and his body — dissolving in the raindrops. NASCAR ultimately cancelled practice and qualifying because of rain.

MORE: Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup practice, qualifying

Bowman suffered a fractured vertebra in a sprint car accident last month and has missed three Cup races while he recovers. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the season’s longest race, is scheduled to mark his return to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet.

“It would have been really nice to kickstart that with practice today,” Bowman said. “I haven’t raced or competitively driven a race car in a month. I’m trying to understand where my rusty areas are going to be and where I’m still good.”

Bowman ran 200 laps in a test season at North Wilkesboro Speedway this week, but, of course, that doesn’t compare with the faster speeds and tougher G-forces he’ll experience over 400 laps Sunday at CMS.

Bowman admitted that he is still experiencing pain from the back injury — his car flipped several times — and that he expects some pain during the race. But he said he is confident he’ll be OK and that the longer race distance won’t be an issue.

“I broke my back a month ago, and there’s definitely things that come along with that for a long time,” he said. “I have some discomfort here and there and there are things I do that don’t feel good. That’s just part of it. It’s stuff I’ll have to deal with. But, for the most part, I’m back to normal.

“I’m easing back into being in the gym. I’m trying to be smart with things. If I twist the wrong way, sometimes it hurts. In the race car at the end of a six-hour race, I’m probably not going to be the best.”

The sprint car crash interrupted what had been a fine seasonal start for Bowman. Although winless, he had three top fives and six top 10s in the first 10 races.

“I’m excited to be back,” Bowman said. “Hopefully, we can pick up where we left off and be strong right out of the gate.”

He said he hopes to return to short-track racing but not in the near future.

“Someday I want to get back in a sprint car or midget,” he said. “I felt like we were just getting rolling in a sprint car. That night we were pretty fast. Definitely a bummer there. That’s something I really want to conquer and be competitive at in the World of Outlaws or High Limits races. Somebody I’ll get back to that. It’s probably smart if I give my day job a little alone time for a bit.”




Charlotte NASCAR Cup Series starting lineup: Rain cancels qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — William Byron and Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the front row after wet weather cancelled Saturday night qualifying.

Rain pelted the CMS area much of the day Saturday, and NASCAR announced at 3:45 p.m. that Cup practice and qualifying, scheduled for Saturday night, had been cancelled.

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

The starting field was set by the NASCAR rulebook.

Following Byron and Harvick in the starting top 10 will be Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The elimination of the practice session was particularly problematic for Alex Bowman, scheduled to return to racing Sunday after missing three weeks with a back injury, and Jimmie Johnson, who will be starting only his third race this year. Johnson will start 37th — last in the field.

Charlotte Cup starting lineup

Wet weather cancels Charlotte Cup Series practice, qualifying


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR Cup Series drivers will start the longest race of the season with no practice or qualifying.

Wet weather and predictions of more to come led NASCAR to cancel Saturday night’s Cup Series practice and qualifying in mid-afternoon. The field for Sunday’s 600-mile race was set by the NASCAR rulebook, placing William Byron and Kevin Harvick on the front row for the  scheduled 6 p.m. start.

MORE: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

MORE: Alex Bowman confident as he returns to cockpit

Weather also could be an issue Sunday as more rain is predicted for the speedway area.

Drivers were scheduled to practice at 7 p.m. Saturday. That session was to be followed by qualifying at 7:45 p.m. The cancellations were announced at 3:45 p.m.

The time-trial cancellation marked the first time in 64 years that qualifying has been canceled for the 600.

Charlotte Xfinity race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — Persistent rain forced the postponement of Saturday’s scheduled 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to Monday.

The race is scheduled to start at noon ET. It will be televised by FS1 and broadcast by the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Driver introductions and other pre-race activities were held at the track Saturday, but rain that had dampened the track in the morning hours returned. After several attempts at drying the track, the race was postponed after heavier rain returned in mid-afternoon.

Justin Allgaier will start the race from the pole position.