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France blames NASCAR’s downfall on Earnhardt
Overall NASCAR television ratings were down about 13 percent in 2007 as compared to 2006.  But NASCAR chairman Brian France said during a Reuters Media Summit in New York Tuesday that he was not worried NASCAR's popularity is slowing. (Note: Attendance at the track and merchandise sales dropped too, But Brian France conveniently skipped those topics). 

“The margin of error for all the sports to manage their business smarter is more narrow," France said.

But France also pointed to the failure of NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., to have a strong season hurt the sport's television ratings.

"It would have helped if he would have been competitive," said France. "He didn't win an event and he certainly didn't make our playoffs. And that's unhelpful if you're trying to build ratings."

France said double champion Jimmie Johnson might be the NASCAR's next star despite his laid-back personality.

"The storylines we talk about are driven by rivalries, driven by personalities, and they're also driven by dominance. Dynasties are all not bad for sports.

"Jimmie's in the early stages of what may be a dynasty. He's back-to-back champion in the stiffest of competition.

"But has he gotten to the status of Dale Earnhardt Senior?” France said. “Of course not. It takes a long time and your personality has to come out there too."

France called Johnson "the Tom Brady of NASCAR," in reference to the clean-cut quarterback of the New England Patriots.

"He's a California good-looking guy that does everything perfectly," he said. "That's his style."  Cup Scene

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