France focused on improved on-track product

NASCAR continues to work on improving its on-track product, an

endeavor chairman Brian France takes so seriously he plans to

attend Monday’s test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The test at Charlotte will be the second as NASCAR continues to

seek a rules package that could enhance the competition.

”Obviously, we want to get more lead changes, we want to get

closer, tighter competition,” France said Thursday in a briefing

with reporters. ”I’d love a photo finish every weekend. The point

is that we’re going to be working all the time on (improving) the

competition and … lead changes are going to be a huge part.

”I think that is a big measuring stick. But it’s not the only

one. Safety is in there in a high place, acceptance, all kinds of

things.”

Once that Charlotte test is complete and NASCAR has a better

grasp of its 2014 rules, the focus could be turned to other areas

of the product: France hinted Thursday there could a larger

emphasis placed on winning and changes coming to the qualifying

process.

”Do I think we have it perfect in terms of the right incentives

to win? I don’t think we do,” he said. ”I’m not willing to say

exactly what it’ll be, but I think we can do a little bit better. I

saw some things that I thought, not that they weren’t trying to

win, but that maybe the risk might have outweighed that, and we’ll

be looking at that. I think the first thing for us is to get the

rules packages in the best place that we can . but after that will

be some format discussion.”

For qualifying, NASCAR told competitors it is considering moving

away from single-car qualifying for the group formats used on road

courses.

”It’s the one format that we will deal with, because it’s not

part of the race-day event,” he said. ”Our goal is to make that a

little more exciting, a little more interesting for the fans.”

France also downplayed an overhaul to the 2015 Sprint Cup

schedule when NBC takes over the second half of the NASCAR

television package.

”Most tracks with a couple of exceptions don’t like to give up

a date that’s worked for them and so on that they’ve had for a long

time,” he said. ”So there might be a change or two, but I

wouldn’t predict any significant changes.”

Other topics covered by France:

-The Richmond scandal: France said he was personally ”pissed

off, to be honest” when it became clear that Michael Waltrip

Racing had manipulated the end of the regular-season finale in its

attempt to get Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup

championship field.

But France supported NASCAR’s handled of the situation. Severe

sanctions were levied against MWR, Truex was kicked out of the

Chase in favor of Ryan Newman and the field was expanded to 13

drivers to accommodate Jeff Gordon. France also ordered all drivers

to give 100 percent at all times going forward.

”I was very angry about it,” France said. ”But I also knew

that . if we dealt with it really straight on, that we wouldn’t

have a long-term blemish. It was going to be really tough,

especially for the teams that got penalized, losing sponsors. That

was no fun for anybody. But I knew that our credibility would be

preserved if we did the right thing and we acted swiftly.

”I wasn’t ever worried about that. But of course we were

disappointed. But that’s just the nature, I guess, of competitive

sports. You’ve got human beings trying to do their best, and

sometimes they cross lines they shouldn’t cross.”

-Formula One’s scheduled race in Austin, Texas: The F1 schedule

released this week placed the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin on Nov. 2 –

the same day as the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway

in Fort Worth, a three-hour drive from Austin.

”Well, I wouldn’t have done that myself,” he said about F1’s

race date. ”I’m sure they had the same kind of scheduling

challenges that we do. They go all over the world, and that was

what they chose. It wouldn’t be my first choice.

”I expect them to suffer a lot more than Texas will suffer. I

don’t think it’s good for either group or either series. That’s

their prerogative to schedule events when they want to and see how

it works out.”

-Iowa Speedway: NASCAR last week announced it had purchased the

track, but has no plans to add a Sprint Cup race to Iowa. The track

has hosted Nationwide Series and Truck Series races since 2009, and

IndyCar also races at the facility.

France said NASCAR’s ownership gives the track some

stability.

”It’s an attractive asset in a region of the country that is

very NASCAR-centric, and they run multiple events for multiple

series, they’ve had a lot of success,” France said. ”We’ve got a

lot of talent through our system that we’ll be able to deploy to

promote, run, operate and execute that facility, and we’ll try to

do our best to position it.”