Skip to content

Brian France: Daytona 500 win good for Dale Earnhardt Jr., good for NASCAR

Feb 27, 2014, 6:32 PM EST

Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images Getty Images

As Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes, so goes NASCAR.

If Junior wins races – and potentially and finally wins a Sprint Cup championship – it would likely be the big shot in the arm NASCAR needs to completely recover from several years of struggling at-track attendance and slumping TV ratings.

NASCAR chairman Brian France alluded to that back in 2009 and it remains as relevant today as it did when France first said that.

“It’s sort of like when the NBA doesn’t have the L.A. Lakers or Boston – a couple of their key historic franchises – in the race, that impacts the league,” France said in an interview back then with the Charlotte Observer. “We’re in the same boat.

“Our No.1 franchise, which happens to be Dale Jr. right now, (when he struggles) that’s going to have some impact on his fan base. It just does. … He has won a lot of races in the past. We could have a resurgence and the world would be a better place.”

In light of Earnhardt’s win in Sunday’s Daytona 500, the second time in 10 years that he’s won the Great American Race, could 2014 be both Earnhardt’s year and NASCAR’s year?

Granted, there’s still 35 races to go – including the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s marquee event of the season.

But Earnhardt’s win at Daytona has certainly got NASCAR fans, particularly Earnhardt’s large Junior Nation, excited and hopeful.

“Any time his fanbase gets revved up, that’s a good thing,” France said in an interview Wednesday with SportingNews.com. “That’s good for him, and that’s good for us.”

Earnhardt has been so excited since Sunday’s win that after several years of prodding from fans, he finally took to Twitter late Sunday evening and has continued to post a number of entries, particularly from his celebratory media tour that has crossed the country since then.

Needless to say, Earnhardt’s tweets have helped rev up what had been a somewhat dormant Junior Nation in recent years.

France covered a number of topics with SN, but the conversation drifted back to Earnhardt and his big win, his first time in victory lane in 55 races, dating back to 2012, and his third overall victory since the start of the 2007 season.

“The really great thing is how authentic he’s been throughout the week here as he’s doing (on Junior’s promotional media tour),” France said. “That’s great. We’ll have to see (how much of an impact Earnhardt’s win will have over the entire season).”

Earnhardt has been voted by fans as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver the last 11 years, second most to Bill Elliott’s stout mark of 16 years as the sport’s most popular driver.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Indy 500 ticket reveal set for March 5

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    RHR’s image on Indianapolis 500 tickets to be unveiled on Thursday.

  2. PWC enters 2015 season with an overflow of riches in all classes

    Mar 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    WC

    With 114 cars total and a manufacturer overload, things look promising for Pirelli World Challenge heading into 2015.

  3. F1, IndyCar seasons finally premiere in 2015’s version of March madness

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Mercedes Formula One driver Rosberg of Germany leads the pack at the start of the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne Reuters

    F1 and IndyCar kick off; NHRA, sports cars and ladder series also have a busy month of March ahead.

  4. F1: Barcelona second test wrap, and 2015 test times cumulative roundup

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    RosbergFinalBarc Getty Images

    Mercedes leads in pace, and lap count as F1 preseason testing is in the books for 2015.

  5. Michael Schumacher’s son Mick to race in ADAC F4 championship this season

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:59 AM EST

    MickSchu Getty Images

    Mick Schumacher to advance from karting into cars this season.

  6. Max Chilton makes intriguing career shift with Nissan LMP1 move

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:21 AM EST

    ChiltonColumn AP

    With potential Indy Lights success there for the taking, Max Chilton instead opts for the LMP1 route with Nissan.

  7. Max Chilton, Alex Buncombe complete Nissan LMP1 lineup

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:45 AM EST

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Max Chilton and Alex Buncombe round out the Nissan LMP1 lineup; Chilton full season and Buncombe at Le Mans.

  8. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Sunday

    Mar 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Here’s the final recap from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as pre-season testing comes to a close.

  9. Ferrari staying grounded despite strong pre-season display

    Mar 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Maurizio Arrivabene AP

    Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene calls for “concentration and discipline” at Maranello in the lead-up to the start of the 2015 season.

  10. Happy Birthday to reigning IndyCar champion Will Power

    Mar 1, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Power a champion at long last. Photo: Getty Images Getty Images

    The Team Penske pilot turns 34 years old today.

  11. Maldonado ends testing in the wall after brake problem

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Maldoando 13a Getty Images

    Maldonado is still able to find the positives out of his final test run before the beginning of the 2015 season in Australia on March 15.

  12. Bottas: Reliability a key strength for Williams in 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Should Mercedes drop the ball in 2015, Williams could be the team to pick up the pieces and snatch a race win.

  13. Verstappen ready for F1 debut after “best pre-season ever”

    Mar 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Verstappen 13 Getty Images

    17-year-old will become the youngest driver in the history of F1 to start a race in Australia.

  14. James Courtney wins season-opening V8 Supercars feature in Adelaide; ex-NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose 12th

    Mar 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 - Race 3 Getty Images

    Ambrose cracks Top 10 on feature grid, but fuel strategy hinders an otherwise decent run for him.

  15. Rosberg: Beating Hamilton in testing a “useful” edge

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:45 PM EST

    Rosberg 13 Getty Images

    German driver posted the fastest time of winter testing in Barcelona on Friday.

  16. Simona de Silvestro completes Formula E show run in Geneva

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    © FIA Formula E © FIA Formula E

    With the ban on motorsport in Switzerland being lifted, the door has been opened to an ePrix in Geneva.

  17. F1 pre-season testing ends with Bottas fastest for Williams

    Mar 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Four Getty Images

    Attention now turns to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 15.

  18. Allison pleased with Ferrari race pace in testing

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Raikkonen 13 Getty Images

    Ferrari technical director says that the SF15-T is working as expected.

  19. Maldonado hoping to fight with Red Bull and Ferrari in 2015

    Mar 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Maldonado 13 Getty Images

    Maldonado confident Lotus has made a big improvement after miserable 2014.