France: Young drivers give NASCAR deep talent pool – Nascar
RICHMOND, Va. — NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Sunday that NASCAR is in a state of transition within its deep, talented driver pool, drumming up support for incoming young talent in NASCAR’s national ranks.
France’s remarks came during an impromptu media session at Richmond International Raceway about an hour before Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400. France acknowledged the new wave of drivers’ growing connection to the sport’s fans will not be an overnight process, but that being steadfast when it comes to on-track performance should help their names resonate.
“The good news is, and you guys have seen it in the talent pool that’s coming, and it is deep, so we’re excited about that,” France said, mentioning the moments enjoyed already by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson, age 24. “I think the big thing is — and I always tell them this — they’ve got to compete at a high level. They can’t be humble about that. They can’t be humble as they race out there with veteran stars who they looked up to. They can’t be humble to say ‘I’m happy to be here.’ They’re here for a reason. They’re very, very good.”
France’s Q&A came five days after Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport’s Most Popular Driver, announced that the 2017 season would be his last in the Monster Energy Series. France paid tribute to Earnhardt in his opening remarks, saluting both his driving career and his efforts to improve the sport with his collaborative spirit.
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“He’s meant a lot to this sport in many ways, on and off the track — not just his popularity, but carrying on the Earnhardt name in such a good way,” France said. “He was always competitive on the track, always raced at a high level, and always worked with NASCAR to make the sport better, just like his father did.”
France also discussed the impact of Monster Energy as the premier series’ entitlement sponsor, a partnership announced five months ago. Since the two sides joined forces, France said Monster Energy has played a key role in trying to introduce the sport to a new, younger demographic.
“I’d say in one word — great,” France said. “I think that they are bringing what we hoped they would bring, that sort of youthful, kind of edgy … they do it in entertainment, if you were out in California, with a massive crowd interacting with our fan base. And then digitally, socially, they’re one of the leading companies in the country in how to manage that new frontier.”
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