Sunday’s NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway should be a wake-up call for the France family and everyone involved with NASCAR.
The race at PIR ran long after two red flags so ABC booted the broadcast to second tier station ESPN2 so America’s Funniest Home Videos could be shown without delay.
This is a slap in the face of NASCAR and points to more problems with the sport.
The slow economy is leaving track operators with thousands of empty seats and millions in lost revenue.
Auto manufacturers are reeling from the economic downturn and their commitment to the sport is coming into question.
Talk of cost cutting and layoffs, even at super-power Hendrick Motorsports, are swirling around the paddock.
Brian France, the head of NASCAR, is rarely present at races. That may not sound important at first glance, but if you look at the lack of success at Dale Earnhardt, Inc under the leadership of reclusive Teresa Earnhardt, you begin to see there’s a problem.
And finally, the Chase for the Sprint Cup isn’t very interesting or entertaining this year. Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle have had chances to pick up points on Jimmie Johnson, but it just hasn’t happened. Johnson, by being so consistent, is hurting the sport. That’s not a knock on Johnson, he and his crew chief Chad Knaus are doing their jobs better than anyone else in the garage.
It’s time NASCAR does something, anything. France has yet to express any opinion or disappointment in ABC’s decision to move the broadcast.
It’s time for some excitement from NASCAR. I discussed some changes that owners and drivers wouldn’t like in the past, but fans would love.
NASCAR needs to bring us some excitement, and they need to bring it soon. Either that or risk being pushed aside for bowling.
On ABC moving the PIR race to ESPN2:
“We didn’t like it, that was not what we had anticipated but we have talked to them repeatedly in the last couple days,” France said. “There were lots of circumstances that we have to consider. They have their own issues they had to manage around. Unfortunately we got the short end of that.”
France, however, says the interests of NASCAR and its television partners are “in line” and that a rare early afternoon storm and a late accident that forced two red-flag stoppages couldn’t be helped.
On the subject of cutting costs France said:
That includes perhaps eliminating all testing as a cost-cutting measure, an about-face from a few months ago when NASCAR hinted it may expand testing to 24 days a year for all teams.
“Testing is on everyone’s short list,” France said.
“We believe very strongly that this car will deliver cost savings in the long run for sure and for in some cases in the short run,” France said. “It will allow us in the future to take cost out of the equation. … Our No. 1 policy along with safety is take cost out of the industry.”
On the downturn of the auto industry:
Besides, France knows NASCAR has bigger issues. With the U.S. automobile industry crumbling, France softened his stance on the future of Ford, Dodge and General Motors in the sport they helped create.
Days after saying the sport wouldn’t “live or die” on the fates of the Big Three, France said NASCAR is working aggressively to make sure the companies remain part of the circuit’s foundation. GM’s stock dropped to its lowest point in 60 years Monday.
“We have every intention of them being a big part of the sport in the future,” France said. “We’re going to do everything we can to help them get through a very difficult business cycle.”