NASCAR: Brian France talks possibility of mid-week races, road race in Chase

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The new Chase for the Sprint Cup format had a nice start in 2014, but NASCAR still has to figure out other ways to augment its current fan base with newer ones.

A concept that has been repeatedly batted around for some time now is mid-week races, particularly during the summer months where NASCAR would face less TV competition from other sports.

In the past, drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman have championed the idea.

But NASCAR Chairman Brian France didn’t seem too keen on it during his Tuesday appearance on Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR Live radio show.

“One challenge that we have, among others, is the current events that we have – no one wants to give any of those up, so start with that,” France said when asked about the subject by host Eli Gold.

“The other challenge that we would have is we don’t have home teams…What we rely on are 80 to 100,000 – and even more – people to make a weekend out of something, drive on average 200-plus miles, often stay more than two days, and bring their families.

“When you start doing that in mid-week with school and everything else – even in the summer – those kind of opportunities to draw people to these big speedways becomes more difficult.”

And while the aforementioned new Chase format has provided a jolt to NASCAR’s post-season, a common complaint about the Chase remains that its current 10-track lineup could use a shakeup.

Five of the 10 tracks are 1.5-mile, intermediate ovals that already dominate the Cup landscape, and they include Homestead-Miami Speedway, which hosts the season finale.

A road race in the run to the championship could provide some more spice, especially considering how good NASCAR’s product on the twisty tracks has become.

But France indicated that perhaps we shouldn’t be holding our breath on that, either.

“We’re not opposed to it, but from a calendar standpoint, there’s only two [Sprint Cup road course] venues of course, and both of them like their dates for different reasons,” he said. “So, [it’s] unlikely to see that happening, only because of, really, how the dates fall.”

Sonoma Raceway in California hosts Sprint Cup in late June, while Watkins Glen International in New York State has its Cup weekend in early August.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.