NASCAR chairman Brian France addressed the media for the first time since last season’s final race Sunday at Richmond, where he touched on a number of topics ranging from Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement to the future of NASCAR.
France, accompanied by his 6-year-old son Luke at the podium in a surprise visit to the media center, noted the cyclical nature of the sport and a recent changing of the guard following the exits of stars Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, and Junior at season’s end.
“It’s really not uncommon to see three, four or five of your top drivers deciding to exit around the same time,” France told reporters. “The good news is the talent pool that is coming is deep. We’re excited about that.
“I’ve said this a long time ago: careers are not going to last as long as they did in previous decades of NASCAR. The demands are high, the opportunity to leave a race car and do something else because of the financial situation they are fortunate enough to be in allows them to pick and choose their careers a little bit differently.”
As NASCAR hopes to market to younger fans, France said one thing he tells the young drivers is that they shouldn’t feel they need to be modest. Rather, he wants to see “their personalities come out; their competitive zeal come out.”
“They can’t be humble when they race out there with veteran stars that they’ve looked up to,” France said. “They can’t be humble to say they are ‘happy to be here.’ They are here for a reason — they are very, very good. And they stay for a reason, meaning you have to compete at a high level.”
Perhaps other drivers besides Kyle Larson will take after France’s suggestions. Larson earlier this week said the was the “last true racer left” in NASCAR’s Cup Series.