As the leader of Speedway Motorsports Inc. – the entity that owns eight tracks with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series dates – Bruton Smith hasn’t always gotten along with the sanctioning body about the sport’s direction.
But when it comes to the new Race Team Alliance, Smith is happy to stand in NASCAR’s corner.
The RTA has insisted that they’re not looking to pick a fight with NASCAR over matters such as revenue from the sport’s new TV package (which goes in effect next year with NBC Sports joining Fox as a broadcaster), and is focusing on cutting costs in areas like parts, travel, and insurance for team members.
But apparently, that hasn’t convinced Smith, who believes the RTA is bad news.
“What I know about it, of course I don’t like it,” he said to Ryan after today’s Sprint Cup practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (which is owned by SMI).
“I don’t know anything about it that’s good for what we do. I don’t see anything that’s going to be good for the sport. Nothing.
“What little bit I know about it right now, it seems it will damage the sport. If NASCAR needs us, we’re there with NASCAR on the deal. We’re there every day, every hour, if they need us.”
According to Ryan, Smith even pretended not to know the RTA’s chairman, Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman, in his interview.
Smith’s comments are a stark contrast to those from defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, one of the biggest teams in the RTA.
Johnson said this morning at New Hampshire that he understood the worry from some over the RTA’s formation.
But he also expressed the belief that the RTA can help NASCAR better recognize the collective needs of the teams by having those needs voiced by a single group.
“We will see what the future holds and I feel like there is a positive outcome,” Johnson said. “This is a good thing. I don’t feel like this is going to drive separation or a split, and I don’t even know where that separation or split would take place.”
NASCAR president Mike Helton also said this morning that the sanctioning body’s relationship with the owners has not degenerated into animosity.