NASCAR fans have nothing to worry about.
That was the message NASCAR CEO Brian France delivered during a Wednesday appearance on SiriusXM satellite radio. His optimism comes during a time when there is diminishing interest in the sport, the lowest television ratings since 2000 and the imminent retirement of the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But France says NASCAR is just stuck in an annual cycle.
“Every sport has different cycles where it’s better than it was or less than it should be, whatever it is, that will work out,” France said. “Our job is that if there is a way for us from a policy standpoint, as an example, getting the cost out of the system, that we are going to work, that’s where the charter agreements that we did a couple of years ago allow us to, get at those things.
“I wouldn’t worry about that for one minute if I were a fan because it just works itself out. We will make good decisions and the teams are working very closely with us to take any shortcomings out of the system and figure it out. I wouldn’t worry about that for a minute if I were a fan. I am a fan.”
At face value, the charter system he referenced doesn’t seem to be working with several teams like Tommy Baldwin Racing and HScott Racing shutting down since its inclusion, and several others — like Richard Petty Motorsports — desperately seeking funding to remain operational.
In fact, NASCAR is taking an active role to promote diversity by working to find sponsorship dollars for would-be Petty driver Bubba Wallace and soon-to-be free agent Danica Patrick.
“We get involved all the time with sponsorship arrangements with individual teams,” France said. “That’s not inconsistent with what we do. As far as those two drivers, of course we would like to see both of them have a real good opportunity. We can’t control all of that.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to compete, and both of those drivers have shown that they can compete at some level. The question is, is it high enough to attract the right sponsorship and interest? We’ll have to see how that plays out.”
With the departure of Dodge in 2013, NASCAR was left with just three manufacturers in Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota. The latter is spending the most money right now based on competition and activation and the sport could use another marque to increase competitive car counts.
France says NASCAR has spoken with at least two interested manufacturers.
“It’s hard to come in and get the right teams,” France said. “They all want to come in and compete at a very high level as fast as they can, which makes the challenge even harder. There are two and we’ll see how it plays out.
“Our preference would be to be able to add one more. Interestingly, the other car manufactures are open to that, too. They’d like to compete themselves with one another and take a lot of pride in that. My hope is that as soon as it can work out, we’ll add a fourth. We’ll have to see how that goes.”
One topic not discussed on the air is the potential that Monster Energy could be out as title sponsor after the season, despite another year remaining on its two-year deal. The Sports Business Journal has thoroughly reported that the two sides are negotiating over what the future looks like for the partnership.
In short, NASCAR has no shortage of issues to address. With that said, the chairman of the board is preaching patience.
During his 14-year turn as NASCAR’s top executive, France has commandeered the creation of four different playoff formats, the charter-based ownership model and a five-year sanctioning agreement between tracks and the league.
There have been safety improvements surrounding the car and universal implementation of the SAFER Barrier, but that’s come with it a massively consolidated national touring structure with Cup, Xfinity and Trucks all racing on virtually the same tracks.
France’s administration also secured the current $8.2 billion, 10-year television agreement with FOX and NBC — far greater than industry insiders expected from NASCAR.