Q and A with Brian France
NASCAR chairman Brian France was at LMS for the Coca-Cola 600 and addressed a number of issues with a small group of media.
Q: Is there any update on the possibility of a Sprint Cup date for Kentucky Speedway in 2009?
Brian France: We've been pretty clear about Kentucky in terms of 2009, in that the schedule is getting completed and we have no intentions, right now, of being able to get a Cup race there for '09 -- and that's all we can say, right now. We don't have any intentions to do that.
Q: Can you talk about Auto Club Speedway and the other possible date changes for the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule?
Brian France: We're working on a number of things, and that's one of the reasons why [we can't just add to the schedule]. It's too late in the game for us to be looking at any other realignment options -- not the least of which is that SMI doesn't own Kentucky right now.
We have to deal with the people that own that speedway, and so we're very late in the process. We're trying to get our schedule out earlier than we have in a while, and there could be some dates that move around a little bit -- not from speedway to speedway, but just in scheduling.
We might be able to work on a different weekend for one track or another that's been trying to do that for a long time. But we're late in the process on that.
Q: If Bruton Smith ever finds a way to get Kentucky a Sprint Cup date, is there any concern about over-saturating the market, as has been noted before with Michigan, Indianapolis, Chicagoland and Bristol all in relatively close proximity?
Brian France: Yes, and it's not a market that we've said is highly desirable. It's well-served [now]. We'll look at things as we go down the road, but right now [Smith] doesn't own it and we've got to deal with the owners that do have it; and we have [Nationwide] events and truck races [there].
So we're working on that right now with them.
Q: Bruton says he has a plan, though he won't say what it is. Do you know anything about that?
Brian France: He has not told me anything.
Q: Have you asked him about it?
Brian France: I talked to him about it. We talk a couple times a week, usually. But he just has not mentioned any specifics on that.
Q: Bruton has talked about purchasing either Pocono Raceway or Dover International Speedway, so where do those markets fit, in terms of importance, to NASCAR?
Brian France: I don't know about [plans to purchase those tracks]. Those are speedways that have their events, they're doing fairly well and if something changes in the ownership structure, then we'll deal with that.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on Humpy Wheeler announcing his retirement?
Brian France: You know, I got a little touched in [the drivers' meeting Sunday]. He's such a pioneer to the sport and he's somebody I've dealt with for my entire career at NASCAR.
He'll be missed, but like you said, I don't think he's going to go that far away and maybe there could be something that he could help NASCAR with [because] he's certainly got the most broad knowledge of what's going on as anybody, so he'd be a guy that I might talk to.
Q: Are you satisfied with the way the new car is running and might there be changes to it?
Brian France: If there are changes they're going to be tweaks and we're trying to let the teams [work with the car]. They can't all figure it out if we're changing things as we go along.
So we've got to let them deal with the car that they have. Some are figuring it out faster than others -- but every week somebody else comes and sorts it out.
We look at it every week, and obviously the mile-and-a-halfs have a slightly different show than anywhere else, but the car is doing fine, absolutely fine. We're satisfied with it.
Q: Can you talk about the impact of gasoline prices on NASCAR?
Brian France: I think it has a significant impact on our fans that have to drive further and stay longer. It's a significant issue.