Competitors and colleagues remained confident in NASCAR’s ability to move beyond Brian France’s arrest and wished the best for the grandson of the sport’s founder Tuesday.
NASCAR announced Monday that France would take a leave of absence from his role as Chairman and CEO after he was arrested Sunday night by Sag Harbor (New York) Police. France was cited for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree after he failed to stop at a stop sign. He was cited for possession of oxycodone pills.
France spent Sunday night in jail. He had a court appearance Monday morning and was released on his own recognizance.
Jim France, NASCAR vice chairman and executive vice president, has assumed the role of interim Chairman and CEO, NASCAR stated.
“Obviously it’s disappointing news, no way around that,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on his podcast, the Dale Jr. Download, on Tuesday. “It’s very disappointing. I’m sure that Brian is disappointed in himself.
“The one thing that I hope is that Brian gets in front of the people that he needs to get in front of and gets the assistance and help that he needs to make sure this is something that doesn’t happen again. Regardless of his role in NASCAR going forward, it’s important that he’s healthy and that he takes care of himself. So, I’m wishing that on him.
“With that said, I’m very confident in the people that NASCAR has in the industry. I know all of them very, very well. I feel incredibly optimistic about being able to move forward and beyond (Monday).”
Kevin Harvick also offered his best wishes to Brian France.
“From a personal standpoint, you obviously want to see somebody be well and have their health and do the things that it takes to be healthy in life,” Harvick said on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show on Tuesday.
Harvick admitted he hasn’t had much contact with Jim France in the past, but appreciates his racing background.
“It’s good to have a racer,” Harvick said. “That’s the most important thing. It’s not like he’s hands off. He knows the ins and outs of what’s going on to this very minute in the sport, has been around the sport for a long time. That’s what you need is that racing perspective of just making sure we stick with the roots of what made NASCAR racing what it is, and he’s been around it and know how that went.
“I think from the drivers’ perspective, it’s really important whoever is in that position to become more connected. I think that’s the most important thing right now is this sport needs to be connected in a lot of different directions, but they need to all come together and go in the same direction instead of having so many different ideas.”
Denny Hamlin, attending Washington Redskins training camp, told reporters Tuesday: “Lesa (France Kennedy) and Jim are going to do a great job. I’m confident in the leadership of NASCAR. I know all of the executives really, really well. I get invited into some very intense meetings with them at times, and am very confident that those guys can take the reins and do a great job.”
Jim France, son of NASCAR founder William H.G. France, also is Chairman of the Board of International Speedway Corp. Lesa France Kennedy is ISC’s CEO.
Watkins Glen winner Chase Elliott said on a teleconference Tuesday that he knows Jim France.
“I haven’t ever had any issues with Jim,” Elliott said. “I expect them to do fine, and it doesn’t change my job, so I’m going to do my thing.”
Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., told The Associated Press that the sport will continue to go forward.
“Our sport is big, big, big and it’s bigger than just one person,” Smith said. “We go forward. We have to in this sport. At this point in time, NASCAR needs friends and people that will help. It’s a great sport and we go forward and we all should be very protective of it and be willing to lend a helping hand.”