France: NASCAR studying ways to improve racing

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“We’re obviously very honored to be a part of what’s going on at Beyond Sport,” France said. “The idea is that teams, leagues, athletes come together to share best practices of what they’re doing. It puts us on a big stage, which we’re excited about. And frankly, it matches perfectly with directionally where we’re going. We’re investing a lot with kids. We’re certainly focused on the environment and giving back to different communities.”

NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya also attended the announcement.

“Pretty much every driver has a foundation or does something to support other charities and other drivers’ foundations,” Johnson said. “This is a perfect fit. I’m very proud of the effort and the work the Jimmie Johnson Foundation has done, and I look forward to sharing our best practices and just trying to give back. There’s a huge void out there, and if it wasn’t for the nonprofit world, there would be even a larger gap.”

Beyond Sport Founder Nick Keller officially extended the invitation to NASCAR prior to the start of the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We are very excited to welcome NASCAR to Beyond Sport and look forward to promoting and supporting the NASCAR community’s collective efforts to make a difference in the world,” Keller said. “Sports are one of the most powerful platforms in any culture to promote good, and the combined strength and collective commitment of these leagues is coming together to drive important change. NASCAR makes the movement even stronger.”

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EARNHARDT SPONSORSHIP AT RISK?: Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Jack Kingston are pushing for an amendment that would stop government funding of sponsorship in NASCAR and other professional sports as part of the fiscal year 2013 Defense appropriations bill.

The amendment passed on a voice vote and will now go to the House floor as part of the $608 billion defense spending bill.

That obviously isn’t good news for Dale Earnhardt Jr. because the National Guard is one of his primary sponsors. Over the past five years, the National Guard paid $136 million to sponsor Earnhardt’s ride, including $26.5 million last year alone, McCollum said.

McCollum cited numbers Friday that claimed not one recruit has been generated from that sponsorship.

“The Pentagon’s NASCAR sponsorship program is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta should terminate these sponsorship programs immediately,” McCollum said.

Earnhardt sees it a different way.

“I would encourage them to do more homework, get more facts, understand the situation a little more,” Earnhardt said. “I know just talking to the (National) Guard they can’t express to me enough about how much this program helps their recruiting. They are committed to the belief it has a profound effect on their recruiting and their ability to recruit.”

When asked if he’d invite Kingston to a race, Earnhardt laughed and said, “Yeah, just because he’s a Republican from Georgia he should have seen a NASCAR race by now.”

Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart has the U.S. Army as sponsor of Ryan Newman’s team at Stewart-Haas Racing, and in IndyCar, JR Hildebrand is sponsored by National Guard.

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