Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brian France on franchising: 'It's in our best interest to have healthy team owners'

  Could some form of franchising be in NASCAR's not-so-distant future?
   In an appearance Wednesday afternoon on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NASCAR Chairman Brian France seemed to open the door to some sort of franchising model for NASCAR teams that would provide invested team owners with equity outside of the car parts and machine tools that fill their respective shops.

   Asked by Sirius host Dave Moody for his take on the status of talks on the issue, France said, "It's in our best interest to have healthy team owners who have the best opportunity to field quality race teams. That's a goal that we've had for a long time. That remains. In any way we can do to benefit that business model and create more opportunities for ownership, for example, whatever we may be, all of those things are what are being discussed. It's not a new direction. We are taking a little bit more of a formal look at that. Whatever we can come up with that benefits our team owners, their business models and creates a healthier and more competitive NASCAR, that's in our best interest."

   Asked how far along the talks are, France said, "These are complicated matters. They aren't new. What is different a little bit is that we're formalizing these discussions so we can accelerate these ideas. Directionally, in our best interests of course to make sure our team owners are healthy. They've said they have a lot of challenges right now. We're listening to that because they are one of the most important stakeholders in NASCAR."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

NASCAR Chairman Brian France supports 'eradication of the Confederate flag'

Statement from Brian France, NASCAR Chairman & CEO

   DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 27, 2015) – “NASCAR will maintain its long-standing policy preventing the use of the Confederate Flag in any official position at our events. In all areas that NASCAR controls on a given race weekend, the flag has no presence. 

   “We have been clear in support of this position throughout our industry and to those across the country who have called for the eradication of the Confederate Flag. We will be as aggressive as possible to disassociate NASCAR events from an offensive and divisive symbol. We are working with the industry right now to achieve that goal.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

Jeff Gordon on Confederate flag: 'I support NASCAR.'

   Jeff Gordon, who grew up in Northern California, will make his final start of his NASCAR career in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. On Friday, Gordon was asked about his reaction to NASCAR's statement this week that it supported the efforts of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley and others to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.

   “As far as the confederate flag I think that… I know how we approach it at Hendrick Motorsports and that is everything that we can control. We have eliminated the ability to use it in anyway or it show up in any of the things that we are involved with.  I think that is the stance I see that NASCAR has taken and have had that stance for several years," Gordon said.

   "To me I’m in support of what they are doing. It’s a delicate balance. We race all over, but the South is an area where we have a lot of fans. Everyone has different opinions and expression of that. I support NASCAR and the stance that they are taking.”

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NASCAR's Jeff Gordon makes a 'homecoming tour' stop in Northern California

   Before competing in next weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and his family made a stop on Saturday in Northern California as part of his "homecoming tour."

   Gordon, who grew up in Vallejo, Calif., was joined by his wife, Ingrid, daughter, Ella and son, Leo, and first made a stop at the Rio Linda quarter-midget track where Gordon first raced, as well as the middle school he attended in Vallejo. 

   Gordon announced at the beginning of the year this would be his last as a fulltime competitor in the Cup series. He will begin work next season as a TV analyst for NASCAR on Fox TV. 
   “When you look around Rio Linda, this is really where Jeff got his start, and this is where he came from,” said Gordon, stepfather, John Bickford. “Now, he’s like the ambassador for this sport. Becoming a professional driver is what all of these kids want to do. Every one of these kids racing quarter-midgets today wants to race in Indianapolis or the Daytona 500 someday, and he achieved that.”

   Gordon and his family toured the 61-year old facility, visited with young racers and took part in pre-race ceremonies. It marked the first time Gordon had visited the facility in more than 30 years. His daughter, Ella, is in the early stages of her own quarter-midget racing career.

   “Rio Linda was the first place that I ever drove a race car on the track, and I won a lot of races there and made a lot of friends. I don’t know what life would be like for me today if it weren’t for Rio Linda,” said Gordon.

   Gordon also paid a visit to the former Springstowne Middle School (now Vallejo Charter School) in Vallejo, which he attended. Gordon was born in Vallejo and lived in Northern California until he was 14 years old. He was welcomed by nearly 200 students and their families for a question-and-answer session in the quad of the middle school. 

   Gordon was also presented with proclamations and gifts from U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson (Calif. 5th Congressional District), Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, Vallejo Vice Mayor “Jess” Malgapo and Vallejo City Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Austin Dillon gets a new crew chief at Richard Childress Racing

   Austin Dillon will have a new crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the June 28 race at Sonoma, Calf., although he is not unfamiliar with Richard Childress Racing.

   Richard "Slugger" Labbe will take over as crew chief for Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet, replacing Gil Martin, who will move into a leadership role within RCR's research and development department. Labbe had worked in the department as well as served as crew chief for Dillon's younger brother, Ty, when he has run the No. 33 for Circle Sport Racing. 

   Austin Dillon, the 2013 Xfinity Series champion, is currently 23rd in the Cup series standings with just one top-10 finish.  

   Labbe's wins include the 2003 Daytona 500 and 2011 Brickyard 400, as part of 433 Cup starts to his credit.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jeff Gordon explains last weekend's blowup over the radio with his crew chief

   A very frustrated Jeff Gordon and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, had a very uncharacteristic blowup over their team radio late in last Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono. 

   The exchange got so heated, at one point Gordon's spotter, Eddie D'Hondt, chimed in and said, "Guys, let's just settle down."

   On Friday at Michigan International Speedway, Gordon admitted there had been some built up frustration with how his final fulltime season in the Cup series has been going.

   "It seems like every time we have a car that is capable of either winning or running in the top five some circumstances come about that take us kind of out of that. That is frustrating.  When you are in the closing laps of a race or coming down to the final pit stops, and you are making choices and decisions you are not always going to like those decisions," Gordon said.

   "At that point I think both Alan was frustrated and I was frustrated. The restarts weren’t going great. We took a risk on pit strategy and the caution came out. That blew that strategy and that put us back  We saw how tough it was to pass and track position was really important, especially in that final run. 

   "It is all good. We are big boys. We respect the heck out of one another and we had great conversations this week. I think it’s actually been more positive that we kind of got that out there and had this heated moment. And said some things and got them off our chest. I think it has actually helped us come into this weekend focused, motivated and excited.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ross Kenseth wins his first ARCA race in third career start

   Ross Kenseth, the 22-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Matt Kenseth, won his first Automobile Racing Club of America series race on Friday at Michigan International Speedway in just his third series start.

   Ross Kenseth, driving for Ken Schrader Racing, passed then-leader Grant Enfinger with 13 of 100 laps remaining and held on for the win while also conserving fuel for the final laps. 

   "It was pretty cool. I was glad he won and he did a great job," Matt Kenseth said after the race. "Ross has been working really hard, particularly the last year, to get some opportunities." 

   Ross Kenseth gets another big opportunity next weekend, when he will compete for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

   "I'm just happy we got back to racing. I thought they may call it at one point (from the rain)," Ross said. "Grant did a great job racing me and taking my line away. It's been about a year-and-a-half since I won at anything, so this is awesome."