NASCAR to look at lead changes, driver feedback
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France says he believes the Generation-6 car will create more competition and closer racing on the track. But at the end of the day, he said, a number of factors will eventually tell the story.
Speaking to members of the media attending the annual Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, France said officials would measure the success of the new car by considering lead changes, how the car races on the various tracks and driver feedback.
"… Not everybody will always love every rules package or thing that we do, that's for sure, but we'll look at it very simply,” he said. “Everything is designed to have closer competition, and we'll see -- and I'm quite confident that I know we're going to make improvements.”
Tuesday, Jan. 22 Video: NASCAR President Mike Helton on the Gen-6 car
“Obviously we had to go away from the complete common template that really would have defined the old car, so that goes with the territory a little bit," France said. "But having said that, we're also working closer with them than we ever have… they're really excited about that, and that's good for us and good for them.”
France touched on a number of other subjects during the afternoon gathering at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, including television contracts, race lengths and the evolution of the Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“It's a good time for premium sports properties like ourselves,” France said, referring to the FOX TV renewal signed last year. “So we're quite confident that we're going to get the right packages, the right partners. We have great partners now (in ESPN and TNT). My hope is that we'll be able to extend those relationships. But those negotiations are alive and well, going fine.”
Events have been shortened in the past, he said (Pocono Raceway’s two Cup races have been trimmed from 500 to 400 miles, for example), but France said the length of a race can’t be based on the television audience.
“We will continually look at the format in terms of mostly how long or short an event can be,” he said. “And that's obviously balanced against what the track operator believes his customer base wants to see.”
The 2013 season will mark the 10th running of the Chase, and while it hasn’t always produced the final race drama that many had hoped, it has been a success, France said.
“What it really has done for me, though, as a fan … is it shows that the drivers and teams, when it's all on the line, can really elevate their talents, and you saw that with Tony (Stewart) and that incredible run two years ago; you certainly saw it with Brad (Keselowski) getting on a roll and competing (in 2012),” he said.
“You never had those moments to judge a driver in the old system, and I like that. I like what that does to the teams, and we certainly like the wild card… So we really like the emphasis on winning, winning your way in and so on. I think that's exactly what we want.”