NASCAR Chairman Brian France held a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday afternoon in which he praised the new season's fast start and the storylines provided by Trevor Bayne's Daytona 500 victory and Jeff Gordon's win at Phoenix.
Here are some of his notable comments:
On increased TV ratings: No one around here is celebrating. We're obviously pleased we're up dramatically in our ratings. But we know that is an ebb-and-flow thing. We're focused on a lot of things that will give us growth down the road. We're going to work on those, not get too excited or too down.
I look at the interest level of the sport, and that's growing after having peaked and maybe dropped back a little bit for some reasons a couple years ago. The general interest level is going up and that's what we're going to be working on, is creating new fans.
On schedule changes for 2012: Do we see any major changes in the schedule? We don't release that for another month or so. We did have a fair amount of changes last year and even some in the last couple years.
So by definition I don't think you're going to see a lot of changes. We'll see how some of the new dates, their new time on the calendar works out. But I don't think there will be as much as there was, say, in 2010.
On whether the post-race shows are too short: I think generally speaking we would agree, that it would be nicer to have a longer post-race. But if you think about it, most sports don't have a particularly long post end of a game. The networks don't stick around for an additional half hour. It's not something FOX should be thinking about because, after all, that's just not the norm with network or even cable television.
Once the game is over, there's typically a short post-race. You hope the rest of it, social media, NASCAR online, places to digest good post-race information is where they go.
On whether he likes the new style of restrictor-plate racing: Although it looked a little bit different, the competition level went up. We look at a lot of things to come to that, but we like it. It's different. But, generally speaking, if competition goes up, the races are exciting, we're going to like it.
On how a potential NFL lockout affects NASCAR: We're wishing that all of the leagues do well. That is just the reality of how we look at that. We don't pay any attention to where they are, where they're not. It's obviously out of our control.
On NASCAR's diversity program: We're going to have a breakthrough in that area. It's going to be on my watch, and I'll be very proud of that when that occurs.
On how the new points system is changing things: I think you saw the disappointment with Tony (Stewart) not winning when he thought he should have won last weekend, he now counts that because he doesn't start fast. He may need that (for a wild-card spot).
I think you're going to see an escalation of that. That's what great competition is. I'm actually happy to hear people complaining about that. It means it's working.
On Danica Patrick: There was some discussion, did she have the right stuff to compete in the Nationwide Series. You know, I think she dispelled a lot of that. There's always circumstances in the start of a new career. But sometimes things are out of your control, people can crash in front of you, a hundred other things.
I think she elevated herself quite nicely. That's nice to see. She's a very competitive person. She's always said she's here to compete, not just happy to be here. That fits my criteria.