NASCAR Chairman Brian France met with the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway to discuss the state of the sport ahead of this weekend's season finale. Here is a transcript of his opening remarks, and a following question-and-answer session.
BRIAN FRANCE: Good morning, everyone. One way or the other this weekend we're going to make a little bit of history or a lot of history depending on how it goes. Jimmie Johnson could make history with his fourth consecutive championship, quite an accomplishment. We could make history if Jimmie has a problem and Mark Martin wins, he would be the oldest champion in NASCAR history to win a title. We could make history either way if Rick Hendrick, and he will, wins his ninth championship and ties Richard Petty. Either way, however it goes out this weekend, it will culminate a good season of racing and we're excited about that, whatever the outcome is.
Obviously the big thing is the dominance of Jimmie Johnson, the 48 team, what they've been able to accomplish. I don't think even historians in the past that were looking at different things in any particular season could have predicted how successful they are, how good they are. Everyone at NASCAR certainly congratulates them.
We have had, on balance, a very good season. You expect me to say that, but it has been. We're not without our ups and downs. In a long season, as many races as we have, we're going to have some of those. But we're real pleased with a lot of the things we did accomplish through what still remains a very difficult economy, very difficult on our race fans.
We continue to be pleased with the initial promise to the teams that we were going to react in an accelerated fashion, if we could, with everything from testing to rules packages and everything in between with policy to see if we could take additional cost out of their race operation budgets. We've done that in a lot of ways. We'll be doing more of that because, obviously, it's important and obviously we don't believe that 2010 looks, from just a pure economy standpoint, an awful lot better.
So, we'll be having that accelerated thought in mind for our teams to continue to help them as they have. The sponsorship front is getting better. There are companies joining the sport. That's encouraging. But it's still not what we all anticipated and hoped it will be in the future.
The tracks, I want to say, have reacted to these issues very well. Here in South Florida or anywhere on the circuit, tracks have taken an incredibly big step to be mindful of this economy. They've cut ticket prices pretty drastically. They've worked with hotels in every market to try to get better fares, better rates.
They've worked with all the pricing that they possibly could control to lower prices, whether it's merchandise, whether it was food and beverage, trying to do everything they can, particularly in a lot of places where we race like Michigan or California, that have been very hard hit, harder hit than other parts of the Midwest, the Northeast, mindful that a number of places we go unemployment is high, they're hearing that from their ticket customers, all the rest. My hope and my belief is that they will continue that.
We will continue our part in making it more affordable for the teams to race. We'll be working with them in a substantial way to help the sponsorship piece, which they're so reliant on, we're all reliant on, do as well as it can do. Certainly with the car manufacturers, we're certainly happy that all the car companies have stabilized. We didn't know this a year ago, what all would have occurred, transpired, but it did. The good news is they're out and doing business, doing better than they had been in the past. It's a very encouraging thing. They're a very integral part of what happens at NASCAR.
We've worked carefully with all of those companies to make sure that they stay in NASCAR, they're a good value, we're a big part of what they do in the future. On balance, that was all achieved. No small thing on everyone's part.
When you look at all the things, when I talked to you in February, we're going to have full fields in all national divisions, there were a lot of question marks there, this was going to happen, that was going to happen. On balance, we got through things fairly well, not easily. But we're poised to get onto the off season, give everybody a much-needed break, including people in this room.
With that, I'll be happy to take questions.