The Latest: Kyle Busch wants NASCAR to keep moving forward
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of NASCAR Chairman Brian France (all times local):
NASCAR star Kyle Busch is hoping the series can quickly move past the arrest of Chairman Brian France.
Busch had a media event Tuesday in South Carolina for Darlington Raceway and said he hopes France’s issues don’t “affect NASCAR in a negative way.”
France took a leave of absence following his Sunday night arrest in New York’s Hamptons on charges of driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone. The arrest comes at a time NASCAR is desperately trying to stop a slide in popularity.
Busch believes NASCAR needs to move forward. Jim France, Brian’s uncle, has assumed the chairman and CEO roles for the privately owned company.
“We’ve got to look to our sport’s future, what we can change and what we can do next,” Busch said. “Brian’s been our leader for a long time. Look forward now to the opportunity to have Jim France in there.”
Busch has won six Cup races this season and is a series champion.
The owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. has called on all NASCAR stakeholders to rally around the series following the arrest of Chairman and CEO Brian France.
Bruton Smith owns SMI, the rival company of France family-owned International Speedway Corp. The two groups host the majority of NASCAR’s Cup Series races, and the France family also owns NASCAR.
France, a third-generation leader, took a leave of absence following his Sunday night arrest in New York’s Hamptons on charges of driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone. Smith told The Associated Press that it’s imperative for participants to support the series.
“At this point in time, NASCAR needs friends and people that will help,” Smith told the AP. “I like Brian OK and it’s a rotten shame he did this, but people sometimes do things that they shouldn’t do. That being said, it’s a great sport and we go forward and we all should be very protective of it and be willing to lend a helping hand.”
Smith was a longtime NASCAR adversary during Bill France Jr.’s 31-year reign as chairman. He’s had a better relationship with France’s son, Brian, who replaced his father in 2003.
Brian France has retreated from the spotlight the last two years as NASCAR has struggled with attendance and television rankings.
One of NASCAR’s longtime participants believes Brian France has been unfairly blamed for the downturn in NASCAR.
France has taken a leave absence as chairman and CEO of NASCAR following his Sunday night arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of oxycodone. He’s held the position since 2003 and made radical changes to the racing product that have coincided with a steep decline in NASCAR’s attendance and television ratings.
Felix Sabates has had at least partial ownership of a top-level NASCAR team since 1989. He defended France to The Associated Press on Tuesday as “the most loyal friend anyone can have” and said the entire industry shoulders blame for NASCAR’s slide .
Sabates said team owners and drivers share equal responsibility in pushing the series to skyrocketing spending and share the burden with NASCAR in turning it around. Sabates also said France deserves to be welcomed back into NASCAR whenever he’s ready.
Jim France, Brian’s uncle and the vice chairman and executive vice president of NASCAR, is the interim chairman and CEO. NASCAR is privately owned and was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947. Brian France replaced his father, Bill France Jr., who ran NASCAR for 31 years before turning leadership over to his son.