France: NASCAR gets "maligned a lot" for falling short on expectations

Welcome to the final installment of a series of stories based on Motorsport.com’s exclusive interview with NASCAR Chairman Brian France.

France: NASCAR gets "maligned a lot" for falling short on expectations
CEO and Chairman of NASCAR Brian France
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Brian France, CEO and chairman of NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet beats Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France

Chairman Brian France says he doesn’t like to talk about the biggest challenges facing NASCAR in terms of one or two things, but if there is one overriding issue that always needs to be center stage, it’s the product on the track.

“Our job is to get the racing product right because the expectations are higher than ever,” France told Motorsport.com. “They are skyrocketing high. We only have one or two and maybe three big events a week – we don’t have 30 games a week going on like some sports leagues.

“So, when we don’t have our most competitive moment, we all put our heads down and are disappointed because we basically have to wait a week to try again. It could be the next night in the NBA. They could have eight games going on and still get an incredible display of competitiveness.”

France said none of these challenges are new, but he remains focused on whether the sanctioning body is handling them better, or working toward solutions in a better or more efficient way.

“I want to know are we more alert to things? The stakes have never been higher because our partners have invested more, whether it’s car manufacturers, TV partners or tracks, which are putting hundreds of millions of dollars into these facilities,” France said.

“Naturally, the expectations are going to be higher on whether NASCAR delivers on this big promise of safe, affordable and very close, tight racing – with a little contact here and there. That’s our goal and we have a lot of good people in the industry and in NASCAR itself working every day trying to achieve that goal.”

With those high expectations, France acknowledges he and the sport get “maligned a lot” when fans, media or even competitors feel NASCAR has fallen short.

“It may look like we get off our stride, but I would say we really are not. We’re cruising through things in a way you would expect us to do – being very disciplined, being very smart, and hopefully that will result in the right outcome,” he said. “But it’s hard. It’s not easy because of how difficult the sports landscape is today.

“People don’t really think about that when they judge us on one decision, or one TV rating, or whatever it is. We are doing pretty amazing things and mostly with private capital.  We don’t have the same amount of general media, mostly because we don’t have what you would call ‘home teams’ in a lot of places.

“And most sports leagues right now are successful – they are well-run, they are well-entrenched culturally, which is great. And yet here we are competing almost every single week and doing pretty darn well at it.”

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