Report: NASCAR memo: France family ‘dedicated to the long term growth’ of sport

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NASCAR President Brent Dewar told employees that the France family “remains dedicated to the long term growth of our sport” in an internal memo obtained by the Associated Press on Tuesday.

The memo was issued a day after a report by Reuters, citing unnamed sources, that the France family was in the exploratory stages of possibly selling their majority stake in the sanctioning body.

Dewar said in the memo that NASCAR does not comment on “industry rumors,” but did not mention a potential sale by the France family, which owns the sanctioning body founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948.

Bill France Jr. replaced his father as NASCAR President in 1972, a position he held until 2000. He was NASCAR’s Chairman and CEO until 2003 when Brian France took over from his father and has held the position since.

A NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports on Monday that “we do not have a comment on this.’’

In a February 2017 story, The Wall Street Journal reported the Brian France had sold his stake to other family members more than a decade earlier.

The WSJ story said Jim France, Brian’s uncle, and Lesa France Kennedy, Brian’s sister, still hold stakes in the privately held company, and that they must approve any “major changes” in NASCAR.

Jim France also is chairman of the board of publicly traded International Speedway Corp., which has Lesa France Kennedy as its CEO. ISC owns 12 tracks which play host to races on NASCAR’s premier circuit.

Long: NASCAR-related tweets did not reflect positively on sport after Texas race

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As if DeLana Harvick had enough to do. The wife to Kevin Harvick and mother of two children, including a daughter born in December, had to be the voice of reason Sunday night for a sport filled with snipes, swipes and other barbs toward one another after the Texas race.

The back-and-forth carried over to social media and included everyone from a senior NASCAR executive to a team co-owner, crew chiefs and more.

Just as a mother does when she tells a child to stop misbehaving, DeLana Harvick put her foot down on social media with a tweet at 10:38 p.m. ET. It was not addressed to anybody in particular but to anyone watching Twitter after the race — which proved to be as drama-filled as the 500-mile event — it was a good reminder for many on social media.

Until that point, Twitter had been quite interesting for a NASCAR fan if you knew where to look.

NASCAR President Brent Dewar engaged with fans as he often does, but his tone was a bit more aggressive than the other times he’s conversed with fans.

Admittedly, some fans were upset that NASCAR didn’t penalize Harvick’s team for an uncontrolled tire late in the race. NASCAR admitted after the race it made a mistake. Then Monday morning, Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, called the non-call a “close call.’’

Dewar engaged with a fan who was upset about the non-call Sunday night.

Obviously, race control is a secure area and where NASCAR’s officials call the race. To suggest a fan could visit race control seems over the top. While Dewar sought to maintain a sense of levity in the response with the emojis, some could view his comments more harshly than intended.

But it wasn’t just Dewar on social media that stirred debate and discussion on matters. Pit guns were another key point after Sunday’s race, triggered by Harvick’s comments after the race. He expressed his frustration after pit gun issues potentially cost him a chance to win Saturday’s Xfinity and Sunday’s Cup races at Texas.

Harvick said the pit guns “have been absolutely horrible all year, and our guys do a great job on pit road, and the pathetic part about it is the fact you get handed something that doesn’t work correctly, and those guys are just doing everything that they can to try to make it right.”

He isn’t the only one to be upset about the pit guns this year. Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., expressed his displeasure with the pit guns at Atlanta. Pearn let his voice be heard again Sunday after the race, commenting on an article that noted Harvick’s frustration with the pit guns.

Pearn referenced the Race Team Alliance, which features most of the Cup teams. Pearn’s team, Furniture Row Racing, is not a member. Pearn’s tweet earned a response from Rob Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance and a co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Car owner Joe Gibbs said after Kyle Busch‘s win that he’s not a fan of the NASCAR-mandated pit guns.

“I don’t like things not in our hands,” Gibbs said. “So, you know, be quite truthful, I’ve taken a stand on that. That’s something that I hope we continue to really evaluate, continue to evaluate that.”

There was more Sunday.

Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers responded to a tweet from Ty Gibbs that has since been deleted. Gibbs, the 15-year-old grandson of Joe Gibbs and a part of the JGR driver development program, referenced Ford in his tweet after Kyle Busch’s JGR Toyota car won at Texas.

Regardless of whom DeLana Harvick targeted in her tweet Sunday night, NASCAR Twitterverse calmed down. How long remains to be seen.

The stretch of short tracks continues this weekend with Bristol and next weekend with Richmond.

One can only imagine what will be on social media after those races.

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NASCAR President critical of series official’s action in Kevin Harvick’s pit

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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NASCAR President Brent Dewar was critical on Twitter of a series official for fist-bumping a member of Kevin Harvick‘s team after NASCAR decided not to penalize Harvick for an uncontrolled tire in Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Fox Sports 1 showed Harvick’s car chief Robert Smith fist bump with an official and Harvick’s business manager, Josh Jones, tap the official on the back.

Dewar, who often converses with fans throughout the week on social media, was on Twitter after the race. He engaged with a fan who was critical of NASCAR for not calling a penalty on Harvick (NASCAR admitted after the race it made a mistake in not doing so). During the back-and-forth, Dewar told the fan to “Come visit race control some time. You would change your tune.”

Denny Hamlin later joined the conversation.

On the official fist-bumping members of Harvick’s team, here’s how Dewar responded to a fan:

Dewar had a discussion with a fan about NASCAR later admitting its mistake in not penalizing Harvick.

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NASCAR President discusses new manufacturers, night racing at Martinsville

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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NASCAR President Brent Dewar said Tuesday that deadlines have passed for a new manufacturer to be a part of the sport in 2019, meaning the earliest Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota could face additional competition will be 2020.

Dewar made his comments on “The Morning Drive’’ on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He discussed that, night racing at Martinsville and other topics, taking questions from fans.

Asked about the chances of a new manufacturer in the sport, Dewar said:

“There’s a demand for it, I will say that. We’ve been in talks with two or three natural manufacturers that would be the natural next choice. We’ve got a lot data that we share with them. Our fans would like other manufacturers in the sport. Actually, the three (manufacturers) in the sport embrace it.

“We’re not looking for somebody to come in for two years. If you look at Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota, they’ve made huge commitments and investments. … This is a place to bring your R&D and technology and engage with the fans. If you do it, the right way, there’s no better platform than NASCAR to get a return on that investment.

“Because of the entry points, we passed the ’19 (submission deadlines). The earliest would be 2020. That’s the process we’re working on. … There’s genuine, sincere interest because of the size of the platform and what we’re doing. They like the innovation and change and they’re encouraged that the (manufacturers) have a voice in the manufacturers council.’’

Dewar was asked about the possibility of a night race at Martinsville Speedway now that the track has lights.

“We really applaud them for the investment they made,’’ Dewar said. “It looks great. It gives us the opportunity to do a night race should we get to that.

“It’s really about balancing the schedule of when we have availability at our two broadcast partners, Fox and NBC. To a lot of the fans, they don’t realize the complexity that goes into sports programming.

“We’re a very important sport for both of our partners. We have to be fitted in exactly right to drive and we drive their metrics on a daily basis. It’s a balancing act. We, the sanctioning body would be delighted to race a night race at Martinsville, we’ve just got to be able to find a right fit.’’

Dewar was asked how NASCAR determines what races should be at night and what races run at day.

“What we look at, candidly, it’s not night racing for night racing or day racing, it has to be a combination of the ambient temperatures where we’re at, the type of the track we have and the ability to have a great race. Some of the tracks will lend themselves to incredible night racing.’’

Dewar also was asked why the roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway wasn’t first used in the All-Star Race instead of making its debut as the cutoff race in the first round of the playoffs.

“I think part of the challenge this year was the turnover time to get it done,’’ Dewar said. “I think in the future years, those can be other options. We like the drama that is going to be presented by it. Our drivers are great road-course drivers today. I think it’s going to be a real test to them.’’

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NASCAR Chairman Brian France upbeat Monster Energy will remain beyond 2018

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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NASCAR Chairman Brian France expressed optimism Tuesday that Monster Energy will remain as series sponsor after this season and said that the Cup Series could use one more manufacturer.

France made his comments on “SiriusXM Speedway” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Monster Energy, which completed its first year as series sponsor in 2017, was to have informed NASCAR by Dec. 31 if it would remain beyond the 2018 season. NASCAR President Brent Dewar said last month that the sanctioning body agreed to extend that deadline

“They have had a really good run with us, and we’ve had a good run with them, and my hope and feeling is that that’s going to continue,’’ France said Tuesday. “They’ve been good partners. They’re bringing a lot to the sport. They’ve got a lot on their plate and so do we. We’re working with them to make sure that we have as long an agreement as we can. I think we will. I think it’s working that good for everybody. I’m real pleased with it.’’

Asked by “SiriusXM Speedway” host Dave Moody if there is a deadline on when Monster Energy must inform NASCAR of its decision, France said:

“There’s always that, but we just look at our partners differently. We work though everything. Everything to us is long term, whatever that means in a given relationship. My sense is that it has really worked for everybody. It’s also new. They’ve only been here, my goodness, just completed the first year. They’re working out some things and that’s understandable. It’s all good, actually really good with those guys. Love those guys.’’

Last month, Rodney Sacks, chairman and chief executive officer of Monster Beverage Corp., said during an investor meeting that the company was “evaluating” its future with NASCAR.

Sacks was asked in that meeting about the return on its investments, including NASCAR.

“I think that we have been quite successful,’’ Sacks said. “I think we have got a lot more visibility, a lot more recognition for the brand through the NASCAR sponsorship. It’s very extensive. It’s on TV. It’s appearing on the talk shows. We look at the metrics that the NASCAR folks give us and it certainly does seem to have been enhanced. Now to what degree, that we don’t know.

“Certainly we do believe we have been able to increase penetration but again it takes some time. I think we really started in NASCAR at the beginning of the year — very, very quick decision to go into NASCAR (and) it took us a little bit of time to get up to speed and get our activation going. We think we’ll see lot clearer benefits and more benefits coming from that relationship this year.’’

As for manufacturers, France said he felt there was room for one more in the Cup Series to join Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.

“There’s a lot of work going on on that. Clearly we believe that the sport could not only absorb but welcome another manufacturer. These are tricky things to do. They’re very difficult to pull off. We’re just going to work toward that goal. I believe over time we’re the best opportunity not only in North America, maybe the world in terms of motorsports. We’re going to be aggressive in talking to other manufacturers as we go down the road.’’

Why just one more manufacturer?

“I think there is a limit,’’ France told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “There’s only so many key teams that a manufacturer can get their hands on and that takes time,’’ he said. “They want to have good performance and the right team alignments. Most importantly, they want to align themselves to the right teams and sometimes the teams aren’t available to do that.

“Using the Toyota approach that they had, that took them a long time to be competitive. I think the next manufacturer would probably like to shorten that timeline a little bit and be more competitive quicker. We will get another manufacturer, but it’s one step at a time.’’

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