NASCAR chairman Brian France held a question and answer session last week in Charlotte, N.C. As expected, competition and the economy were the primary topics of discussion. Here are excerpts of France's interview:
Q: What are your overall thoughts about the upcoming season?
A: I don't know about you, but I am ready for the season to start after all. It's been an interesting and challenging off-season for everyone. The Daytona 500 is just around the corner, and fans will once again start debating the on-track topics rather than the off-track topics, topics they typically debate like whether three-time champion Jimmie Johnson can win a fourth Sprint Cup title. Can Ryan Newman win the Daytona 500 again? When will Jeff Gordon get back into Victory Lane? How will two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart fare as a driver and an owner? Will Carl Edwards pick up right where he left off last season when he won three of the last four races? NASCAR race teams are eager to get back at it .
Q: What's on the horizon for the sport?
A: Last year I stood at this podium and pledged we would hold the line on major changes, and we have. The sport and the fans have been through a great deal of necessary change over the last 10 years. Now we're in a period where we're letting those changes mature, and you know, the changes are working well. Things like the new car, realignment and the Chase are proving to be good for the sport and good for competition. Despite the fact that there are no major changes, the NASCAR management team has been extremely busy this winter working with teams and tracks .
Q: How has NASCAR worked with teams on the economy?
A: One of the key areas we're zeroing in on is helping the teams develop a new business model to fit today's ever-changing economy, exploring ways to manage costs much smarter, working with our media partners to explore additional ways to take our product to our fans, meeting with our tracks to brainstorm new promotions for ticket opportunities for our fans and continuing our efforts in diversity, working hard to facilitate opportunities for minorities and females.