Saturday, Dec 09

The caution clock was announced at last year’s Media Tour in Charlotte. This news was not truly accepted by NASCAR fans until it was run during the Camping World Truck Series in 2016.

According to Brian France, the move to institute the 20-minute clock was to “add strategy to the race”. This clock was also used to help Truck teams with young drivers be able to adjust on the vehicle under a caution just like a competition caution in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. When asked if this would be a beta test for the other series, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said “it fits perfectly” with the Truck series and will be looked at for the other series in the future

The clock was not used in the season opener at Daytona, but teams used the clock as a chance to play strategy by hitting the pit road with less than 60 seconds remaining on the clock. However, that strategy did not play well as teams would wreck trying to enter pit road bringing out the caution.

The expiration of the clock brought the caution out an overall 19 times over the course of the season. The clock expired twice at Atlanta, Kansas, Gateway, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and Las Vegas. The clock only expired once at Charlotte, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Chicago, and New Hampshire.

However, the inevitable happened at Texas Motor Speedway in the Striping Technology 350. The caution clock expired three times, the highest of any race in 2016.  While the clock flew three times, it was the cause of all three cautions during the race.

When the clock expired in each of the events, it took roughly three to six laps for the field to return back under the green flag.

As the season progressed, fans began to like the idea of the caution clock. However, many fans agreed that the idea of the caution clock could use some work. The clock did help entice strategy into the races in 2016.

On Monday, Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, joined Dave Moody on SiriusXM Speedway, in an important visit to discuss topics facing NASCAR today. France covered a wide range of topics without holding back his position. 
The first topic of conversation was lugnuts. Earlier in the day, NASCAR announced a new rule where teams must have five lugnuts on each of their tires post-race. If they fail to do so, they will be penalized. “There’s all types of things that teams are obligated to get right with their individual cars. Our job is that whenever there is a safety improvement to make or policy to enhance things, we will just do that. It is as simple as that. Our whole system is based on safe and competitive racing. If we can make an adjustment to make things safer, we will,” stated Brian France, “In terms of loose or tight, we obviously have a lot of technology now to where we can monitor that. We obviously have a deterrent system of putting penalties in place. We will get the policy and rule right where safety is always at the forefront.”
When asked about the Tony Stewart fine, France stated, “Tony’s very aware of how we approach the criticism of the sport and the product of the racing itself. We are the most liberal of any sport in terms of allowing drivers to express their views. We want drivers to express themselves. We are thick-skinned.”  
France went on to talk about heat races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. “I think it is a work in progress. I liked some of the things I saw. I think we are going to continue to look at it. This is our effort to listen to fans, drivers, and teams to see if we can make all the formats better.”
The final topic included a stance on North Carolina’s H.B 2, France stated, “We have been very clear about this from day one when the law was announced. We did not think it was appropriate. We did not care for it. We did the same position in Indiana, although that was a religious based law. Both of these laws fall under what we think are discrimination. With that said, our job is to take a lot out of the communities, taking and giving back. I have spoke to the governor myself. We have worked backchannel in expressing our views. We are very clear about that. We hope that they will change that law. There is no ambiguity where NASCAR stands. When it comes to discrimination, you can expect us to take a firm stand on that.”

Tony Stewart has caused a raucous in the NASCAR world this weekend heading into Richmond.  Stewart, who is in his final season as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, suffered a L1 vertebrae injury back in January made news two times on Thursday.


First, around 11 am Eastern, Tony Stewart announced that he would return back to competition this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Stewart will have only missed eight races in a quicker-than-expected comeback. Although he will return to the track this weekend, at Talladega Superspeedway, Stewart will practice, qualify, and start his Chevrolet in the Geico 500, where Ty Dillon will take the reins. Stewart went to Twitter to make the announcement stating, “Well, the long wait is over. I’ll be back in my Mobil 1 Chevy this weekend at Richmond. I can’t wait to race again. The Dr’s said my scans ‘looked much better than they thought they would after 3 months.’ So they cleared me. Thanks for everyone’s support & well wishes.”


About an hour after the announcement, NASCAR announced that Stewart would be granted a waiver to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. "NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities. We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer.


Nearly a few hours later of the announce of Tony’s return, NASCAR placed an absurd $35,000 fine for his comments earlier in the week about lug nuts. Tony expressed safety and concern for the tactics teams are taking with their tires on pit stops. Stewart denounced NASCAR for leaving their mandatory five lug nut rule from years past. In an event with Mobil1 on Wednesday this week, Stewart stated “You see the problem getting worse. Well if you see a problem getting worse like that, where’s the bottom of that trend going to happen? It’s going to happen when somebody gets hurt, and that’s going to be one of the largest black eyes I can see NASCAR getting when they’ve worked so hard and done such a good job to make it safe. In this one particular area, they are totally dropping the ball on and I feel like really made a grossly bad decision on.”


Late Thursday Evening, the NASCAR Driver’s Council released a statement about the Stewart penalty. The statement from the council was released by councilmember Denny Hamlin. The statement announced that the nine members of the council were going to equally pay for the fine. In a statement to NBC Sports, the Driver’s Council stated, “We as drivers believe Tony has the right to speak his opinion on topics that pertain to a sport that he has spent nearly two decades helping build as both a driver and an owner. While we do not condone drivers lashing out freely at NASCAR, we do feel Tony was in his rights to state his opinion. We as a Council support him and do not agree with the fine. Therefore, we fellow council members have agreed to contribute equally to paying his fine."


Today at Richmond International Raceway, drivers were supportive of Tony and his comments. Many drivers continue to question where the line is of making comments to not make NASCAR mad.


After activities at Richmond, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller, spoke to the media about where NASCAR stands. It was announced that NASCAR is reevaluating the policy for lug nuts because of the driver’s concern. Miller was adamant that there are rules in place to penalize teams for loose wheels if the lug nuts are not tightened correctly. “Technology is the way to see us home on the matter,” said Scott Miller.


This has been a crazy 72-hour news cycle. Here are my thoughts:

First, I am glad to see that Tony Stewart is returning to the track. NASCAR is better when Tony Stewart is around. Hopefully, this return will bring a boost to attendance and TV ratings, which have been at an all-time low, but have beat other sports. I wish Tony the best in his final season.


Second, Tony Stewart does know how to keep people on their toes. This is the second time in 2016 that fans have been blindsided from announcements from Stewart-Haas Racing. The first happening earlier in the season when it was announced that SHR would transfer manufacturers from Ford to Chevrolet. The announcement of his return was also a shocker because at the day before, Stewart was adamant that he did not know when he was going to return.


Third, NASCAR needs to get thicker skin. Why would you fine a driver who has legitimate concerns about safety more than someone who stated that you “fix” races? Why is one penalty more than the other? The concerns from Stewart about safety are valid. Why did you not fine the sports most popular driver, Dale Jr., when he basically made the same comments as Stewart? NASCAR wants the drivers to be open about their concerns, but this penalty basically gives the mentality that “If it is something that NASCAR does not like, then they will penalize.” NASCAR has taken away the personality of the drivers. To me, the penalty shows that NASCAR is not taking the concerns very seriously. NASCAR should rescind the penalty handed down to Stewart after today’s statement from Steve Miller.


Lastly, I applaud the Driver’s Council for taking a stand against the rule of NASCAR. I was amazed to hear that the members agreed to equally pay this penalty for Stewart. My hope is that this council will continue to take a stand on important issues facing NASCAR. 

NEW YORK – In the midst of New York City sat NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, with his wife Amy. It might seem like unchartered territory for the boss of the largest form of motor sports in the United States, but his check book was wide open on Wednesday evening.

The couple was in attendance for the “Stand Up for Heroes” event at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday evening. MSG is just down the road from NASCAR’s New York City office, and is the home for the New York Knicks and Rangers. But on Wednesday evening – all eyes were on an auction to support injured service members, veterans and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation after 9/11.  

France and his wife, along with another party, won a bid for a special auction that was held. Within the auction, items and experiences from Bruce Springsteen were sold. At the end of the night, the Frances spent a total of $300,000, which will go straight to the Stand Up for Heroes Fund. 

In 2003, France took over as Chairman and CEO of NASCAR from his father, Bill France, Jr. Since then, he has implemented multiple changes that have helped NASCAR compete against the MLB, NBA and NFL. France is also responsible for the NASCAR Green program and has implemented the Chase for the Sprint Cup. 

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.


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