Q. For maybe 18 months or so you've said you want to open it up, let these guys get back to being personalities, whatnot. Last weekend we saw some old-school retaliation in the Nationwide race. What did you say to Brad Keselowski? How bad does the sport need that old-school kind of payback fun?
BRIAN FRANCE: Look, we don't go into private discussions we have in the trailer with our drivers. But suffice it to say what we want is drivers who are driving hard, who are driving to win. When that happens you're going to have some situations where there's contact. We're a contact sport. You didn't see us over-respond when that happened. What happened in the Nationwide race in Phoenix, what you're always worried about, with retaliation, all those things, is escalation, unintended consequences.
But on balance, there's no question, we're encouraging drivers. When Carl last year made the last-lap attempted pass, Kansas City, you heard us applauding that. You didn't hear us saying anything other than that was a daring move by one of the better drivers. So we're pretty much committed.
But we also regulate the events. You have to make sure that there are limits to hard driving and rivalries and whatever. But we certainly want them. We know how important they are. We're going to do what we can to encourage them with some obvious limits as we go along.
Q. Brian, in regards to scheduling in 2011 and for the foreseeable future, I know Kansas wants a second date, Kentucky wants a date, some tracks are struggling to sell tickets. When that schedule comes out for 2011, do you foresee a major shake-up at that point?
BRIAN FRANCE: It depends on what you say is "major." For some people one race moving anywhere is major, certainly major for the track that loses a race or one that gains it.
It's certainly possible. Kansas has got a nice track record of a fan base they've built, success in their market. They have a big proposal that is going to be voted on shortly on a casino, a variety of other things, to expand that whole facility. My sense is that that all comes forward, they'll be wanting to have another date there. We'll talk about that, try to make the best decision we have. Kentucky is in the same boat in terms of wanting another date. We've long had a realignment policy that we have worked with the tracks.
It's tough because we balance the historical interest of the sport with the current realities of markets that work better in one place than another. We try to make sure that all works out, that the fans get what they want, which is the right racing at the right place at the right time. We'll be working on that as we always do. But it's certainly possible that changes could happen in 2011.
Q. This weekend can turn out to be pretty significant in terms of the Hispanic attendance, let alone the Hispanic media attending the event. Where do you feel NASCAR is in terms of reaching out to that Hispanic fan base? How important is it to get to that niche?
BRIAN FRANCE: In our situation, we've got a lot of diversity plans and programs that you're familiar with. They're working well. But ultimately, we get graded on the fact of who makes it to the national divisions, and from there what drivers of a diverse nature succeed. You know, having Juan Pablo (Montoya) have the success he's had this year is very helpful to that. There's no question that he has an affinity with the Hispanic fan base.
As the future unfolds, our diversity programs will deliver drivers, and there's several now that are recognized in the farm system of the major teams, that will ultimately – it's hard, because there aren't many seats in the national division, but they will. We'll inevitably have somebody that is going to change the look and feel in a good way, in a very good way.
Juan Pablo has done that sure but steady. My strong belief is in the future, maybe over many, many years before these opportunities reach a place where someone is having success on the big stage, but it will happen.
Q. Brian, obviously dynasties can define glorious eras in sports. You have been very pointed in stressing the historical significance of a Hendrick ninth title and Jimmie's likely fourth. Hasn't NASCAR lost something valuable with the disappearance of the underdog? Do you not see kind of a downside in this dominance, the fact that all the teams legitimately challenging Hendrick or have their engines built by Hendrick are certainly not underdogs?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, look, I'm sure every sport would have that same sort of dilemma of, you know, watching some dominant performances occur at the expense of smaller teams or others. Those are always questions that you would ask, How do you get to the perfect world?
All I can say is what is here upon us, it's historic. It is an incredible achievement that Jimmie is putting forward in NASCAR. That's what's before us. The rest of it, would it be better if this happened, this happened, that's up for other people to decide. I just can grade the performances as they come.
Q. Brian, in terms of the affordability to the teams, is NASCAR looking at boosting the purses in the Camping World Truck Series in terms of you putting the money in the purses yourself?
BRIAN FRANCE: You mean me personally (smiling)?
You know, the purses are part of the equation. The sponsorship is a bigger part, frankly, of how you sort of keep teams well-funded and whatever else. It all obviously comes together.
We've been pretty pleased with the Nationwide support. Frankly, they may be a benefactor as sponsorship values get pushed down or pushed around, that they're going to be a place that it's easy, more affordable for some companies. That's always been the case. It's probably highlighted now with a tough economy.
But we're looking at trying to get their costs down as best we can. We certainly help on the revenue side for them whenever we can, with television revenue or other ancillary revenue, sponsorship revenues. But where we can be the most impactful is helping them control costs with policies we write that affect their teams. That's what we're going to continue to work on during the off season.
Q. Brian, the very first year of the Chase you probably couldn't have planned it any better, you had five guys eligible going into the last race with a shot at the title. Since then we've seen Jimmie's dominance. Do you think the true value of this format won't be known until you look at it over a 10-year period?
BRIAN FRANCE: Probably. I think that's fair. Any models we ever did on anything of how things would likely play out never included somebody who would be so dominating at the right time. It's pretty incredible what they have done. Like I said, you can look at that a lot of different ways. The only way I think that is fair is to recognize it for what it is, not to pick apart the format. This isn't a formula exercise in a computer all the time to get you some result that you want. This is about sports and live things that happen by the best drivers and the best teams in the world and who performs at a high level and when.
You have to say that is what we look at ultimately in deciding what is a good outcome or not a good outcome.
Q. Brian, what are your hopes for gains you can make from the banquet being in Vegas in a couple of weeks versus New York? Do you anticipate somewhere down the road the banquet itself being open to fans?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, there is a fan component now because we had the room to do that in Las Vegas. There will be some number of fans. We're obviously happy about that. We're going to be looking to expand that over time. We want to walk before we run here.
But, look, Las Vegas will be a nice, refreshing thing, a shot in the arm a little bit this time of year for us and for the industry. It's going to save a lot of money, starting with that, which is important in this economy. But also the fact that the city of Las Vegas is so welcoming, the Wynn hotel has been incredible. My anticipation is it's going to be a fun week and attendance is going to be at an all-time high, in part because we have the capacity to expand because the venue lets us do that, and in part because I think people just want to come to Las Vegas in December. So we're looking forward to getting there in a couple of weeks.