Brian France: Charlotte is preferable

Updated: May 25, 2013, 2:34 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR chairman Brian France is not in favor of moving a Sprint Cup race from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith said there was a 70 percent chance he would seek to move the October Chase race from CMS to his 1.5-mile track in Sin City.

That would leave the hub of NASCAR with only one point race, the Coca-Cola 600 in May, and the All-Star race held the week before.

France said during a Saturday state-of-union address at CMS there have been no discussions with Smith or SMI, but his preference is to "make the events where they are more successful.''

"We have gotten a long way with our position in motorsports because we've had historically important events, like this weekend, that happen every year that people can count on,'' France said.

"That said, for one reason or another, a certain market is not performing as well, it may be a better opportunity. We've seen that in the last five, six years or longer. We'll take a look at it. My preference would be to keep the event here in Charlotte.''

France touched on a number of other subjects during a 30-minute news conference. Among the highlights:

• Negotiations for a new television contract that would go into effect in 2015 are "getting down to the last bit of it.''

France said his hope is to renew with the incumbents. Fox already has renewed from 2015-2022 for a reported $300 million a year. ESPN and TNT are the other current partners. NBC also is a player for a major portion of the 36-race schedule.

"My hope is to remain where we are,'' France said. "But that's why you have negotiations and discussions. We'll have to see how that plays out.''

• While NASCAR is pleased with the performance of the new "Gen 6'' car thus far, France didn't rule out changes that will improve the overall racing and passing. He said stepping up technology through research will be a major part of that.

"We want to see a more fair balance where the best drivers and the best teams on a given night who race just a little bit harder, make just a little bit bigger effort,'' he said. "That's the hallmark of NASCAR. We boldly say that. We don't talk about that's sort of part of it. That's the steak on the plate for us.''

• There will be no new venues when the 2014 schedule is released later in the year.

• The new Air Titan track drying system has been a success, particularly at Talladega Superspeedway where it allowed Saturday's Nationwide Series race and Sunday's Sprint Cup event to be completed on the same day.

So why doesn't every track have the system? France said NASCAR, which owns the right to Air Titan, is in the process of educating tracks on the cost savings from getting the event completed on the scheduled day versus the cost of purchasing the machines.

"In fairness to different tracks, they hadn't seen that work in a real live condition [before Talladega],'' France said. "Now they have. My hope is that we will get the cost down, number one, and that every track who is in risk of having rain will be using the system.''

• France is not concerned that NASCAR has lost power to govern with recent penalties to Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing organizations greatly reduced -- and in a few case overturned -- in the appeals process.

"We're usually disappointed when we think we have made a good case for a particular penalty,'' he said. "We do talk about it. But that's what you have when you have a true appellate way to resolve differences.

"But that's why you have a system to give drivers and owners and others a chance to make a case that maybe we went too far or whatever they may think. That's the system that we have.''

• France defended his decision to fine Cup driver Denny Hamlin $25,000 earlier in the year for negative comments about the "Gen 6'' car and the quality of racing after the Phoenix Race.

Hamlin fought the fine initially. Many but not all drivers supported Hamlin's decision, according to France.

"I can't tell you how many drivers came up to me after the Denny Hamlin comment and said, 'You got to do that or we won't be able to help ourselves from time to time. I'm glad you did that,' '' France said. "They all know the line. They all know exactly where it is, because we talk about it. I talk about it directly with every one of the drivers, every one of the owners. No disputing that.

"But it shouldn't be confused, and it never should have been confused, as a policy to stifle the drivers' personalities. It's quite the opposite. We want them to have emotion, even if we don't like to hear it, one thing or another.''

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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