2016 Republican Primary

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Brian France says he’s surprised at reaction to his endorsement of Donald Trump

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NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he considered his support of leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a “routine endorsement” and admitted he didn’t know all of Trump’s policies.

France also said he was surprised by the reaction to his endorsement at a Feb. 29 Trump rally at Valdosta (Ga.) State University. France was joined on stage by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and Sprint Cup drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman and David Ragan.

“I was frankly, very surprised, that my diversity efforts for my whole career would have been called into question, over this, in my view, a routine endorsement,” France told The Associated Press.

France said NASCAR has spent “tens of millions of dollars” on a program intended to increase participation of minorities in the sport.

That is in stark contrast to the backing Trump has received from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto likened Trump’s “strident tone” to the ascent of dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.’’

“I’m not supporting him for all of his views, or his immigration views,” France said of Trump. “I happen to be very enamored by the excitement he’s brought and the voter turnout that it is creating.”

France reiterated that his endorsement was personal and not from NASCAR even as Trump continues to say he has the backing of NASCAR.

“We talked to the campaign about the endorsement that I made, versus the sport, and it’s hard to get that perfectly right all the time,” France said.

A spokesperson for the Trump campaign told the AP that Trump spoke broadly of the endorsement because it “is from the great Brian France, in addition to several NASCAR drivers.’’

Read The Associated Press’ story here.