NASCAR Emphasizing Sport’s Strength Entering 2009 Season

“Drawing upon the twin traditions of strength and service to the industry, NASCAR’s leaders set a confident tone for the 2009 season on Thursday, during the annual preseason press conference at the sanctioning body’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

Chairman/CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton were joined by other key members of NASCAR’s management team, at the final event in the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Throughout, the message was clear that despite the current economic challenges the sport is facing, NASCAR is well-equipped to carry on, move forward and assist other components of the industry to do the same.

“In tough times like these, strong people tighten their belts, put a little extra zip in their step and focus on the things they do best,” France told a crowd of more than 200 media. “In our sport, that’s racing … and no one does it better than our drivers and teams.

“The NASCAR management team has been extremely busy this winter, working with teams and tracks to keep our sport moving in the right direction. One of the key areas we’re zeroing in on is helping our teams develop new business models to fit today’s ever-changing economy. We’re exploring ways to manage costs. We’re working with our media partners to explore additional ways to take our product to our fans. And we’re meeting with our tracks to brainstorm new promotions for ticket opportunities.”

Helton emphasized NASCAR’s commitment in this area has been long-standing.

“I think working with the teams, the tracks, all the stakeholders in the industry is NASCAR’s role, and it’s an ongoing work in progress,” Helton said.

“I don’t know of another sport that takes its role as a service provider to its stakeholders as seriously as the France family does.

“And when we talk about working with the teams on the business models, that’s not really something that’s new at NASCAR. That’s what has perpetuated NASCAR for 60 years.”

Other highlights from Thursday’s event:

• The introduction of the 2009 Drive for Diversity driver lineup. This year’s class features 12 drivers, the most in the six-year history of the initiative aimed to facilitate competitive opportunities for minorities and females. The dozen includes Paulie Harraka, who last year became the first D4D driver to win a NASCAR track championship.

• The announcement of the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction process that will feature five annual inductees and a voting committee that will include media representatives and a nationwide fan vote. The first Hall of Fame class will be announced in May 2010, coinciding with the facility’s planned opening in downtown Charlotte, N.C.”