After taking over for his father in 2003, CEO and Chairman of NASCAR Brian France, has had to endure multiple ups and downs during his reign as the sport’s top dog.
Named in Time Magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential of the Century" in 2006, France has seen NASCAR through an economic crisis, a shrink in attendance and TV viewership, and most recently, the biggest credibility crisis in the sports history.
September marks France’s 10 year anniversary as NASCAR’s CEO and through the last decade, he has made some major changes and additions within the sport. In 2004, France introduced the “Drive for Diversity” program. This program is geared towards bringing female and minority drivers and crewmen into NASCAR and helps them come up through the ranks. Some notable drivers who have been a part of the program have been Darrell Wallace Jr and Kyle Larson. NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program is still growing today.
That year, France changed the way the Cup Series drivers would race for the Championship. Introduced before the 2004 season, the Chase was born. Although it has gone through multiple changes and redesigns, the idea of the Chase as always remained the same; the final 10 races in the season will determine the Championship winner. There have been many drivers who have benefited from the Chase format but the most notable has been five-time Champion, Jimmie Johnson.
In 2008, “NASCAR Green” is launched and quickly became one of the largest environmental awareness platforms in the country. Thanks to NASCAR’s Green initiative, this sport has become the largest recycler and leader in renewable energy. “NASCAR Green” continues to grow to this day.
France also made multiple changes to the racing and the tracks during his 10-year reign. From implementing safer barriers at all NASCAR tracks, to double-file restarts, to random drug testing after each race, France has helped make NASCAR what it is today.
One of France’s biggest accomplishments has to be the addition of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2009, France helped announce the inaugural “Hall of Fame” inductees that included his grandfather Bill France Sr., his father Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson. Since then, many notable names have been added each and every year.
Most recently, France has had to save NASCAR from its biggest credibility crisis in the sports history. France had to weigh through controversy and scandal after the final race before the Chase in Richmond, Virginia. For the first time in Chase history, one driver was kicked out and two more were added, bringing the total number of drivers in the Chase to 13.
In his 10 years as the CEO of NASCAR, Brian France has seen NASCAR through many ups and downs but one thing is for certain, he has definitely made some great changes to the sport that we love. France celebrated his 10-year anniversary on September 13th and will continue to see over NASCAR for years to come.
JOILET, ILLINOIS :: All the controversy following last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway has caused most fans to look away from the important subject, the chase. Matt Kenseth comes into the chase as the points leader due to having the most wins in the regular season. Kenseth comes in to another 1.5 mile track where he's had the most success at this year. Kenseth has four wins at over 1.0 miles tracks, Kansas, Las Vegas, Darlington and Kentucky. But does that make him a true contender for the Championship or will 5-time champ Jimmie Johnson regain momentum?
Despite coming in on a DNF streak 5-time champion Jimmie Johnson always puts on his game face when the chase comes around. He started the 2013 season off with a boom by winning the Daytona 500 in February over Dale Jr. his Hendrick teammate. But as of late we haven't been seeing the No. 48 Chevrolet up front, it's been Kyle and Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards. Jimmie will come in the chase 2nd in points just 3 off of Matt Kenseth and if he can put the last few weeks behind him he will be a contender for the title like he always is.
Last week's winner in Richmond, Carl Edwards also has a little fire under his tail as of late. He captured the flag in Phoenix earlier in the year and hasn't won since until Richmond last weekend. Carl is looking to do even more back flips come the chase this weekend. Edwards driver of the No. 99 Ford has never won the elusive gold at the end of the season, but this year if he can have a little luck he could easily win it all.
He was in the news early this week "funny man" Clint Bowyer for manipulating the outcome at Richmond. He's over that though and he looks to improve one spot in the standings from last year come Homestead. Bowyer doesn't have a win through in 2013 and that sets him back 15 points to start the chase. 15 points doesn't seem like a lot, but he'd have to average 1.5 spots ahead of Matt Kenseth each chase race to take the lead. Bowyer now has something to prove though because he's the only MWR Toyota in the chase.
We can try to predicte who will win the championship all day long, but racing is racing and a blown tire and engine failure in this competition could ruin your entire season in a jiffy. Catch the first race of the chase in Chicagoland on Sunday September 15th on ESPN.
Phoenix Racing now has a new owner after James Finch came to an agreement with Harry Scott Jr. Scott will officially take ownership on September 10th, right before the Chase kickoff at Chicagoland. Scott has some big plans in the works for the No.51 team including a new pilot, current Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier.
Allgaier has been working his way into NASCAR's top tier of racing for many years and is finally getting his chance to run with the best of the best. Starting in Chicagoland, Allgaier will make his first start in the Sprint Cup Series, something he has been patiently waiting for.
Allgaier ran limited races in the series for a variety of teams until he earned his first full-time ride in 2006. For three years, Allgaier raced full time in the series, garnishing eight wins and the 2008 ARCA Championship.
In 2009, Allgaier finally advanced in to NASCAR's Junior Varsity series, the Nationwide Series. In his first two seasons in the Nationwide Series, Allgaier drove the No.12 Verizon Wireless Dodge for Penske Racing. With only one win and eleven top-5 finishes, Allgaier moved to Turner Scott Motorsports in 2011 where he still remains today. While behind the wheel of the No.31 Chevrolet, Allgaier has added two victories and multiple top-5 and top-10 finishes to his resume.
After five full seasons in the Nationwide Series, Allgaier is finally getting his chance at the Sprint Cup Series. With new owner Harry Scott by his side and sponsorship from Nationwide Series sponsor Brandt, Allgaier will make three starts this season in NASCAR's top series before taking over the No.51 permanently in 2014.
Allgaier, with his wife and new baby, is more than thrilled to drive for Scott in 2014. “I love competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series but I must admit that making my debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be a special day for me," said Allgaier.
Allgaier will make his Sprint Cup series debut at Chicagoland Speedway with new Phoenix Racing owner Harry Scott Jr.
Sunday Night’s Coke 600 had to be one of the most unusual races NASCAR has had in a very long time. The most bazaar incident came on lap 126 when a cable holding up the SkyCam broke and fell onto the track and into the stands. Before anyone knew what had happened, race leader Kyle Busch ran over it and sent it flying. He and many others ran over portions of the cable damaging their cars.
NASCAR red flagged the race and brought the cars down pit road. Dozens of NASCAR Officials surrounded the cars to assess the damage and counted a total of 19 of them that had visible damage from the flying cable; the worst being on the No18 of Busch, the No55 of Mark Martin and the No9 of Marcos Ambrose.
After assessing the damage and giving officials enough time to clean the cable up off of the track, NASCAR had the teams fire the engines and make a trip around the track and back to pit road. This time, they sent them to their pit boxes and did something very unprecedented for NASCAR. They gave the teams 15 minutes to work on their cars.
That gave teams like Martin, Ambrose and Busch, who had to replace the right front and side of his car, 15 minutes to do so and other teams with little or no damage 15 minutes of time to make changes. NASCAR officials surrounded each and every car on pit road and monitored each team. It was organized chaos.
After the 15 minutes were up, the grid was reset and no driver lost his or her spot from before the caution and the race was restarted. Teams, drivers and fans were still scratching their heads wondering, what in the world just happened here?
Did NASCAR handle this bazaar situation correctly? I believe they did. The damage to the race cars had nothing to do with an on-track incident and it would have been unfair to punish the drivers with significant damage by sending them to the back of the pack after making repairs or possibly to the garage.
NASCAR handled this odd situation the best they could and since we usually criticize them and their decisions, I think we should commend them on a job well done. Listening and reading to drivers comments after the race, many agree that NASCAR did it the right way.
“Put them back into position on the same tires, open pit road, and then go ahead and pit,” Matt Kenseth said. “It just turned into a free-for-all. There were some crews with 15 people around the cars, and there was no way an official could have possibly seen what they were working on. But that was nice that the guys got to fix their damage, because it was certainly no fault of their own."
“NASCAR did a great job of actually handling a crisis there because we were hard-done by and they gave us our laps back and we were able to stay in the race and duke it out,” Ambrose said after the race.
It wasn’t just cars that sustained damage. In a statement released, 10 fans were also treated for injuries from the cable falling, three of whom were taken to local hospitals. All were treated and released.
The use of the camera has been suspended indefinitely and an investigation into what caused the failure has begun.
So hats off to those NASCAR Officials who made the call after this bazaar incident and also those who oversaw the happening on pit road; you definitely made the best out of an unforeseen situation.
The NASCAR Industry has seen its fair share of fights and feuds already this season and there could be another one that surfaces very soon.
Kasey Kahne has had a pretty strong run so far this season in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with one win and four top-5 finishes. His two worse finishes this season, both on the plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, have come at the hands of another driver, Kyle Busch. This weekend at Darlington was no different.
Kahne brought his could-have-been-race-winning car home in 17th place after an incident with Busch caused him to hit the wall. Busch was racing Kahne for the lead and came up behind him going into turn 2. Busch dive-bombed Kahne in an attempt to slide around him but he went into the corner too fast. He slid up the track and had to slam on the brakes behind Kahne. Busch’s car never touched the back of Kahne’s but his close contact was enough to take the air away from Kahne’s car and it sent him into the wall.
Busch ended up finishing 6th after a flat tire cost him the win in the very late stages of the race. He parked his No.18 Toyota and left without an interview. Kahne, however, did have something to say.
“I could see him and I was like ‘oh shoot, oh shoot’ and then the car moved and just spun out. I don’t know if he actually touched me or what, but his angle into the corner. If he would have just entered like normal, the way he has entered the whole race it would have been no issues and I would have been leading off (Turn) 2 and he just didn’t want that to happen so he blew turn one. So whether he hit me or not he still caused that whole deal with screwing up.”
“I think he just made another mistake. That is his third one when he has been around me this year. I don’t really understand it. We were battling for the lead or for the top two or three spots each time. I imagine he will call me again tomorrow and say he’s sorry. I mean he’s got to just race me. I mean I’ve never touched the guy in my life as far as on the race track. Three times this year, there have been other times in other years. I don’t really know what his deal is with me.”
Kahne was visibly upset but kept his cool during the interview. With three incidents already this season, what could some of these two drivers if something happens again? We all know Busch has a temper but it’s not often that we see Kahne get angry. Keep an eye on these two this season because there is a good battle brewing here.