LAS VEGAS (AP) - NASCAR continues to work on improving its on-track product, an endeavor chairman Brian France takes so seriously he plans to attend Monday’s test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The test at Charlotte will be the second as NASCAR continues to seek a rules package that could enhance the competition.
“Obviously, we want to get more lead changes, we want to get closer, tighter competition,” France said Thursday in a briefing with reporters. “I’d love a photo finish every weekend. The point is that we’re going to be working all the time on (improving) the competition and … lead changes are going to be a huge part.
“I think that is a big measuring stick. But it’s not the only one. Safety is in there in a high place, acceptance, all kinds of things.”
Once that Charlotte test is complete and NASCAR has a better grasp of its 2014 rules, the focus could be turned to other areas of the product: France hinted Thursday there could a larger emphasis placed on winning and changes coming to the qualifying process.
“Do I think we have it perfect in terms of the right incentives to win? I don’t think we do,” he said. “I’m not willing to say exactly what it’ll be, but I think we can do a little bit better. I saw some things that I thought, not that they weren’t trying to win, but that maybe the risk might have outweighed that, and we’ll be looking at that. I think the first thing for us is to get the rules packages in the best place that we can . but after that will be some format discussion.”
For qualifying, NASCAR told competitors it is considering moving away from single-car qualifying for the group formats used on road courses.
“It’s the one format that we will deal with, because it’s not part of the race-day event,” he said. “Our goal is to make that a little more exciting, a little more interesting for the fans.”
“Most tracks with a couple of exceptions don’t like to give up a date that’s worked for them and so on that they’ve had for a long time,” he said. “So there might be a change or two, but I wouldn’t predict any significant changes.”
Other topics covered by France:
_The Richmond scandal: France said he was personally “pissed off, to be honest” when it became clear that Michael Waltrip Racing had manipulated the end of the regular-season finale in its attempt to get Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
But France supported NASCAR’s handled of the situation. Severe sanctions were levied against MWR, Truex was kicked out of the Chase in favor of Ryan Newman and the field was expanded to 13 drivers to accommodate Jeff Gordon. France also ordered all drivers to give 100 percent at all times going forward.
“I was very angry about it,” France said. “But I also knew that . if we dealt with it really straight on, that we wouldn’t have a long-term blemish. It was going to be really tough, especially for the teams that got penalized, losing sponsors. That was no fun for anybody. But I knew that our credibility would be preserved if we did the right thing and we acted swiftly.
“I wasn’t ever worried about that. But of course we were disappointed. But that’s just the nature, I guess, of competitive sports. You’ve got human beings trying to do their best, and sometimes they cross lines they shouldn’t cross.”