- Associated Press - Saturday, May 19, 2012

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - NASCAR Chairman Brian France is aware of the fan debate surrounding the last two months of racing, and acknowledged the sanctioning body is studying several areas to ensure the on-track product is entertaining.

But France indicated it’s difficult to judge where NASCAR is based solely on the last eight races.

“You just can’t snapshot and give a grade like that,” France said Saturday night before the Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fans have been voicing disapproval since the March race at Bristol, which lacked the short-track punch people have come to expect. Then came California, which went green until rain brought out the only caution of a race that was called not long after the yellow.

Texas had only two cautions, Kansas had three and Richmond didn’t heat up until the very end. Although ardent fans are insistent they don’t root for wrecks, there seemed to be some satisfaction after Talladega, which was the first race in a month to feature multi-car accidents.

France seems to have heard the frustration with the long green-flag runs.

“We are very attentive to the fan base,” he said. “We look at it a lot of different ways. You can look at lead changes and cycles of things and more green flag laps than at other times. But we look at it overall and look at things very carefully, and we have a hard job, and it’s hard to put the rules forward that allow the best competition to come forward. That’s what we’ve done for 60-plus years.

“It’s not getting any easier with all of the technology and great teams and great innovators but we’re zeroed in on what we have to get done.”

All four manufacturers will introduce new cars in 2013, and France called it an opportunity to “make the racing better.”

He has tasked senior vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell with repurposing the research and development center, which should help NASCAR “increase our focus on things that can make the racing better.”

With that comes taking a hard look at aerodynamics, which many drivers have said is what’s effecting the racing. NASCAR this week added a side skirt to the cars, which four-time Jeff Gordon called “a baby step” in addressing aero issues.

France said NASCAR is looking at everything.

“We’re zeroing in on if there’s an aero issue,” he said. “From time to time, there’s going to be other issues that we’re able to get at those faster.”


NASCAR JOINS BEYOND SPORT: NASCAR officials announced Saturday that it would join Beyond Sport, a global organization that promotes, develops and supports the use of sport to create positive social change.

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