NASCAR president: No ‘animosity’ toward new Race Team Alliance

NASCAR president Mike Helton met briefly with reporters at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday morning.

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NASCAR President Mike Helton said Friday morning that it’s business as usual for the sanctioning body, despite Monday’s announcement of the formation of the Race Team Alliance, an organization comprised of the nine biggest and richest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.

The RTA, headed by Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman, has said it will work on managing costs in the sport, as well as trying to grow and advance the sport. So far, the group has not said specifically how it plans to achieve those objectives.

That has led to speculation that the RTA might push for a higher share of revenue for the new $8.2 billion TV deal that kicks in next year, or even for some form of franchising, which NASCAR has always staunchly opposed.

In an interview Monday with Steve Byrnes of FOX Sports 1, Kauffman said NASCAR fans should view the RTA as a positive.

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"To the extent the teams are more secure in their long-term future and have better business models, I think it just makes the sport stronger, where you can really afford to invest for the long-term, and not just survive year-to-year," Kauffman told Byrnes. "I think there are a lot of positives there."

In a five-minute meeting with reporters Friday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Helton said that the sanctioning body and the RTA are not adversaries and that NASCAR will keep operating as it has in the past.

"We’ve got great respect for all of our stakeholders in the sport," Helton said. "As their business models have evolved from time to time, our’s has, too. But we’ve got great respect for all of our stakeholders. So any perception that there could be animosity based on this topic is incorrect and very unfortunate, and we should set that straight very quickly."

Helton said both NASCAR and the team owners are committed to putting out a great product at great tracks for the fans. "We stand together very clearly on that," said Helton.

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The NASCAR president reiterated that the sanctioning body has in the past and will continue in the future to listen to participants. "Every car owner in here has a voice," said Helton. "Crewmembers, drivers, crew chiefs. And we take that input and we make what we think are the best decisions that are good for the whole sport. We’ll continue to operate that way. That’s our intention — to build NASCAR collectively. … We’ll continue to do business the way we’ve done business."

Asked if he considered RTA a union, Helton told the reporters, "You know everything we know."

Helton said NASCAR got advance notice of the Monday announcement, but has had no other discussion of any kind with the RTA.