Tag Archives: Brian France

New Chase Grid Format Gives NASCAR Their Answer To March Madness

New Chase Grid Format is NASCAR's Answer to NCAA's March Madness

New Chase Grid Format is NASCAR’s Answer to NCAA’s March Madness [NASCAR]

HICKORY, N.C. - Beginning with the implementation of the NASCAR Chase format in 2004, the sanctioning body sought to appease a long-time wish of the core fan: making winning matter more. Many fans had become disenchanted by the “winning is not as important as consistency” mentality that accompanied a points system that, for all intent and purposes, had been in place since the mid-70’s.

Nevermind you that this point system was the one that made Cale, Darrell, and Dale household names or that those drivers, among others who would win championships in ensuing years such as “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville”, would win their championships not so much by laying back and being consistent but by trying to place their machines in victory lane at each available opportunity.

Yes, each of those drivers would find themselves points racing from time to time, taking a sub-par car back to the garage in one piece and a solid 8th place finish rather than back to the garage on the hook after trying to make something out of something that wasn’t there on any given Sunday.

But by the mid-2000’s it felt like something had changed within the driver’s mindset, even if the points system had seen very little alteration in three decades of successful growth and rising national prominence. For some reason, and a potentially statistically invalid reason, it felt as if drivers were no longer going for broke but rather racing to not go broke.

Enter the Chase. NASCAR’s answer to the detractors who said the racing had become stale and that motivation was lacking. For a decade the Chase has worked fairly well for the purpose intended, with the only real change being the expansion from 10 initial Chase contenders in 2004 to 12 in 2007.

Ask a fan about the Chase and you will inevitably hear a large percentage of them echo the sentiment that since installation of the new system one major flaw in the chase ointment has emerged. This one major flaw has not been so much a loophole to winning a championship but rather a name, the name being that of Jimmie Johnson.

It has never been so much that Johnson does not race hard, or race to win, as the numbers from his impressive string of five championships in a row from 2006 to 2010 will attest, but that Johnson always seemed to be able to “turn it on” at just the right time to win yet again. People, as is human nature, tire of the same old, same old, everyone that is but Rick Hendrick, Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock, Johnson and his wife Chandra, the crew of the #48 and its vast reaching fan base.

With Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski winning the respective 2011 and 2012 championships fans thought that maybe the Chase had turned a corner and the Johnson dominance had ended. Then along came the 2013 Sprint Cup season, a season in which Chad Knaus and the #48 crew again sprinted all the way to the Chase championship.

This past season was one in which it felt as if Matt Kenseth was reaching the winner’s podium every other weekend, though in actuality he finished the season with seven wins, only one more than Johnson’s six. Many long-time fans disdain for another Johnson championship would quickly escalate into cries for change, with passionate fans taking to internet message boards and fan forums near and far, pleading NASCAR to do something to make winning the end all be all of a championship.

Luckily for the fans, Brian France and Co. had been paying attention all along. Departing from the gleaming tower of steel and power situated alongside International Speedway Blvd in Daytona Beach, France would find himself in Charlotte on Thursday for the annual “State of the Sport” speech, a speech in which France would announce sweeping changes to the Chase formula, changes which will send the sport into the 2014 season with more possibility than ever before.

Granted, not all possibility is ultimately good possibility and NASCAR Nation could very well find itself heading to the world center of speed one year from now celebrating Johnson’s tying of Petty and Earnhardt with seven championships, and about to embark on a journey to seek a solo spot atop the sport’s championship pinnacle.

The new Chase was not designed with the over-riding intention of dethroning Johnson, rather the Chase was in many ways designed to create more opportunity for Johnson to simply dethrone himself. For if Johnson is to win a record-tying seventh championship in 2014 it will come after dancing with the dynamite spread about the minefield that is the Chase grid.

No longer will the #48 team simply face implosion after 26 and 36 races but rather season-ending implosion looms after the 26th, 29th, 32nd, 35th, and 36th races. The genius that is NASCAR marketing has even devised battle-hardened names to accompany these possible championship-ending implosion points, names like Challenger, Contender, and Eliminator. These names were designed to invoke images of one needing to go all out to win, of needing to push it to the max each weekend to simply survive and advance, and rightly so.

If these names also happen to send a fan’s mind wandering to their own glorious victories on tracks of the same name at the various NASCAR Speedparks that have existed in tourist markets around the country, then so be it. And let’s face it, beating Uncle Roger or your Sister Sue on the high banks of Myrtle Beach or the Smoky Mountains must surely evoke a similar euphoria to that of which any anti-JJ fan will experience if the series reaches Homestead in November with the #48 aiming for a best-case scenario chase finish of 5th, or even worse.

If the redesigned Chase can evoke euphoric feelings such as those in the 95% of fans who do not consider themselves Johnson fans then the NCAA-inspired bracket has done more than create yet another workplace pool-style wagering opportunity.

If the redesigned Chase again finds the Jimmie Johnson show heading to Las Vegas and the head table then even the #48 haters will have to once again tip their hat to the driving mastery that befits a living legend.

Either way, NASCAR’s willingness to gamble and play loose and fast with the long-standing concept of consistency will undoubtedly breed many more march-madness moments than currently exist on the exhaustive 36-race trek across America. Thus, no matter how the Chase ultimately turns out under the new system, Mondays in the fall will find the potential for the #NASCAR hashtag to trend much more frequently.

This means that whether you love or hate the new Chase grid you must admit that an upward trending NASCAR is good for all who live, breathe, and love the sport. The sport has evolved and in the process made major strides in not only remaining relevant but projecting relevance on the ever-expanding sports landscape and that bodes well for a future that finds NASCAR firmly entrenched as America’s home for motorsports.

NASCAR Launches State-Of-The-Art Fan And Media Engagement Center

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR and HP today unveiled the new NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center presented by HP. This first-of-its-kind resource will enable NASCAR to better serve its industry, partners and fans through a cutting-edge technology platform that facilitates near real-time response and analytics of traditional, digital and social media.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and HP Enterprise Services Vice President Charles Salameh were on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the center at NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, N.C.

“The Fan and Media Engagement Center build has been a thorough process more than a year in the making, and we are excited to see it come to life,” France said. “We believe this tool has the potential to be the best of its kind in sports – the first ever to combine not only social, but also traditional and broadcast media analysis. We’ll be able to use this to help our industry and business partners and better connect with NASCAR fans across the world. It’s another example of our commitment to innovation.”

NASCAR’s Next ’79 Moment?

Credit: RacingOne Multimedia

HICKORY, N.C. —  Tonight’s running of the 54th annual Daytona 500 could very well be NASCAR’s next signature mainstream moment, or maybe not.

There are numerous intangibles as we head towards a scheduled green flag just after 7pm at Daytona International Speedway but the potential exists for what has thus far been a bit more than a headache to actually become a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, literally.

In 1979 the story was set up perfectly, script-worthy some would say.  The 1979 Daytona 500 was the very first NASCAR race to be broadcast to the nation and it happened on a long President’s Day weekend while much of the East Coast and Midwest was being held hostage by a major winter snow storm.

The metropolitan areas of the Northeast that drive much of our national broadcasting were slammed.  Viewers sitting around the television in their dens were bored.  They needed something to capture their attention.

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Predictions

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

HICKORY, N.C. —  The 2011 Sprint Cup Season must have been viewed as just about perfect in the eyes of Brian France, Mike Helton, and the rest of the NASCAR power hierarchy.  It was a season of ups.

Attendance was up at most of the circuit’s tracks.  TV ratings were consistently up among the plethora of NASCAR broadcasting partners.  Controversy (and the ensuing drama) was certainly up.  The on-track action was competitive and the series received its dream finish.

When setting out to forecast goals for the 2011 season it is difficult to imagine that NASCAR could have set their collective sights more ambitiously than the ensuing reality of the year that would follow.

If you had told those occupying top-floor office suites across from Daytona International Speedway that their 2011 champion would end up being determined by a tie-breaker, because 10 races in the chase were just not enough, I think many of them would have uttered a quick where do I sign.

Open Letter to NASCAR Fans from Brian France

Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (official release) —

Dear NASCAR fans,

With the Daytona 500 now upon us, I hope you are as excited as I am to see the greatest drivers in the world competing at Daytona International Speedway later Sunday.

NASCAR is in a very good place right now and our entire industry is working very hard for you, the fans, as we continually seek to improve and grow our sport. Indeed, we are listening to you, as several enhancements that have been put in place in recent years were a direct result of your input.

54th Daytona 500 Boasts A Record Purse Of More Than $19 Million

Credit: DIS

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR’s biggest and most prestigious race will carry a record purse of more than $19 million as well as a new contingency award that will payout $200,000 to the driver leading at the completion of Lap 100.

The posted awards for “The Great American Race” are $19,142,601 with the winner collecting a minimum of $1,431,325. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Daytona 500 will receive a minimum of $1,050,075, $759,600, $609,900 and $486,550.

The Daytona 500 Mid-Race Leader Award will reward the driver leading at the completion of lap 100 of the historic 200-lap, 500-mile race with a $200,000 bonus. If the race is under caution…

NASCAR And Turner Sports Restructure And Extend Digital Partnership Through 2016

Credit: Turner Sports Properties

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR and Turner Sports announced today a restructuring and extension of their long-standing digital partnership. The new agreement takes the relationship through 2016, with NASCAR managing business and editorial operations for its digital platforms beginning in 2013 and Turner Sports continuing to oversee advertising sales and sponsorships across NASCAR-branded digital platforms.

“Turner Sports has been, and will continue to be, a great partner for NASCAR,” said Brian France, chairman and chief executive officer of NASCAR. “Taking a leadership role as it relates to our digital rights is something we as the sanctioning body know is important for the future…

NASCAR Drive For Diversity Initiative Building Off Historic Season

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR and Rev Racing announced today the six drivers that will compete for Rev Racing in the 2012 season. The announcement was made during the preseason NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, where the drivers were introduced.

Rev Racing, formerly known as Revolution Racing, operates under the ownership of Max Siegel and will field four teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and two teams in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“We have a great lineup of drivers,” said Siegel, owner and CEO, Max Siegel, Inc. “They offer an outstanding mixture of skill, experience and talent…