NASCAR Chairman Brian France, speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday afternoon, said he understands the frustration of fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who failed to advance to Round 3 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“We understand if you’re a Dale Junior fan, you are very disappointed because your driver did everything possible to put on an unbelievable performance, racing from the back of the field to the front of the field,” France said.
“He undoubtedly would have won that race but for like a few hundred yards. If I’m a Dale Junior fan I can’t be any more disappointed than this week. We understand that and that’s just a part of the emotion of NASCAR that you’ve got to love, too.”
We have to look at safety and balance it. I think we balance it very well and we probably balance it better than anybody in motorsports
Earnhardt ended up finishing second in Sunday’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway but because of his points deficit, he needed a win to continue to challenge for the series championship.
Ending under yellow not ideal
France said he was “very disappointed” the race did not end under a green flag. A wreck triggered by Kevin Harvick’s slow car on the final restart brought out a caution during the only two-lap overtime period.
Early last week, NASCAR changed its rules from allow three overtime periods to just one at last weekend’s Truck and Cup races at Talladega.
“Those are the rules. There is a safety element that will always come first,” France said. “You saw when we have that kind of calamity of a crash and there is smoke and fire with (Denny Hamlin’s) car, that is going to get an instant caution from us and it should,” he said.
France said a “green flag finish” is always NASCAR’s preference.
“We have to look at safety and balance it. I think we balance it very well and we probably balance it better than anybody in motorsports,” he said. “We’re fans, too. We want to see the best teams win it on the track and not have to end it early for any reason.
“Safety in auto racing and NASCAR will always come first. It has to.”
G-W-C rule not set in stone for 2016 plate races
France said NASCAR has not decided whether to retain the one overtime attempt at superspeedways for the 2016 season.
“We’ll try to balance always wanting to put the best race forward, let the drivers win it on the track, that’s our preference. And we’ll balance against that goal but safety will always remain at the top,” he said.