NASCAR Chairman & CEO joined the NASCAR RACEDAY panel on FOX Sports 1 Sunday morning from Pocono Raceway to discuss a variety of topics, including the new "driver council" that met last week at Dover. Below are excerpts from France's interview, as well as reaction from FOX NASCAR analysts Darrell Waltrip and Michael Waltrip:
FRANCE ON WHAT DRIVERS' CONCERNS WERE IN THE MEETING AT DOVER:
"The first thing is we've been doing a lot of that in the last four or five years anyway. We've got an OEM council, we meet with the car manufacturers, we have track meetings that we didn't have before, we have owner meetings that we didn't have before. So, needless to say, the most important stakeholder in our sport, besides our fans, are our drivers. That's a good thing for us to hear in a more formal setting some of the things that are on their mind. It was a good meeting. It was a good discussion."
FRANCE ON HIS VIEWPOINT OF THE 2015 RULES PACKAGE AND WHETHER HE ANTICIPATES MORE CHANGES:
"Well, we're not done yet. That's the number one thing. I realize it's easy to say, ‘Well, stay where you are. Things were pretty good.' But our job is to make the better and have closer, tighter racing, where some teams that don't have the budget of the size of some of the bigger teams have a better shot to win and compete. That's what we're trying to do. Are we happy? We're never happy because whatever package that we come with, the drivers and teams are trying to game that package and gain an advantage on that. That's what they do. They're great at it. But my sense of it is we'll be coming with some things that just keep marching toward our goal of tighter, closer, lower-cost racing, and that's what our fans want."
FRANCE ON WHAT DRIVERS SPECIFICALLY ARE TELLING NASCAR AND ASKING FOR:
"They just can't agree. They can't agree because they're competing with one another, and so what feels good to one driver in terms of the style of racing doesn't feel as good to another. More downforce, less downforce, more grip, less grip. All those things they may agree while they're sort of talking quietly but once they get with us, it's ‘Whoa, don't do that. Do this. Do that.' We make the decision on what's good for everybody but we need their input. That's what the council and the better collaboration is (for) because whatever decision we make, we can't get enough good information."
DARRELL WALTRIP ON DRIVERS BEING HEARD BY NASCAR VERSUS NASCAR REACTING TO THEIR NEEDS:
"NASCAR has always met with the drivers one-on-one. Very seldom have I ever seen a group of guys get together and sit down with Brian France and discuss a topic. He (France) nailed it (in his comments) — One driver wants this, one driver wants that and one driver wants something else. That's where they have to sift through all that. But I do remember this – a change of attitude I have to say, because Brian France, when the RTA was formed, said I'm not going to meet with a group. I'll meet with them one-on-one but I'm not going to meet with a group. So, obviously things have changed and changed pretty big."
MICHAEL WALTRIP ON DRIVERS BEING HEARD BY NASCAR VERSUS NASCAR REACTING TO THEIR NEEDS:
"I think Brian France and all the drivers agree that it's time for the council. Everybody is really positive about the effects it could have on NASCAR and our racing, but they … didn't make any comments about the specifics of the meeting, and I think that's healthy for the sport as well. Those guys coming together agreeing on the direction of the rules and race procedure is a good thing."
DARRELL WALTRIP ON THE IMPETUS BEHIND THE COUNCIL:
"Nobody likes this package. They don't like the reduction in aero, although a lot of guys were lobbying for that. But what really got these guys riled up is horsepower. When they took away that power, they feel like they took away the power to pass. I asked one of the car owners, ‘Could we go back to last year's package?' He said, ‘In a heartbeat. Take that tapered spacer off. Put that spoiler back there and go race.'"