NASCAR Chairman and CEO, Brian France, participated in a press conference Sunday morning to discuss the health of the sport. This annual “State-of-the-sport” news conference gives France the opportunity to share his opinion on how things are in the sport, as well as, a few hints of what could be coming in the future.
This year’s press conference had plenty of items to discuss – the chase format, now expanded to all three national touring series, the first foreign-born NASCAR champion, and in the midst of one of the most controversial elections in history, his political views.
Probably the biggest story of the year so far is Daniel Suarez winning the Xfinity Series championship. France pointed out the championship for Suarez solidifies the organization’s diversity efforts. “We’re very proud that it validates our diversity plan in a significant way,” France said. “All kinds of conversations on what we’ve said through the years is these things take time to find the kind of talent that can actually compete at a high level on the biggest stages, and he’s done that.”
France also discussed the chase format being expanded into all three national touring series. “We’re very pleased with the formats. Wouldn’t change a thing,” France said. “Go back a year ago for the Xfinity Series .. you had the winner and the champion and a couple others talk about all they needed to do was finish the race. `If I ran 30th, I’ll be OK.’ Well, that’s not really great for great competition. Speed it up to this year, you had all four thinking they’ve got to win the race.”
On the topic of diversity, France was also asked about his support of Donald Trump earlier in the year. France cut the reporter off in mid-question stating, “Stop you right there, nobody wants to hear my political views. Not one person on this stage wants to hear from me politically. And so I won’t be talking about that other than that, but on my diversity — nobody, nobody in this company has worked harder, done more and resourced it better than me.” “I founded the Diversity Council,” France said. “I fought for every single thing that makes sense, because that’s my core belief: Diversity is very, very important. I talk about it frequently. And my efforts there should never be challenged, no matter what my political views might be. That’s a ridiculous thing to do.”
France also indicated that he is pleased with the overall health of the sport. France stated, “…we are still very pleased with our position in sports. The audience isn’t going away at all. It’s sliding to different places, consuming in different ways. I would tell you some other leagues that have 30% drop‑offs, they didn’t lose 30% of their audience from one moment to the next, that audience is just sliding and consuming in some different ways. Our digital consumption is off the charts.”