NASCAR president Mike Helton said today that the sanctioning body will not change its way of doing business as a result of the newly formed Race Team Alliance.
Earlier this week, nine of NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup Series teams announced what they called “an open forum for the teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote, and grow the sport of stock car racing.”
Comprised of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske, the RTA announced plans to extend invitations to all full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams in the near future.
Meeting with reporters Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Helton downplayed reports of animosity between the new group and NASCAR, saying the sanctioning body will continue to do business as usual.
“We’re going to stay our course,” said Helton. “We have great respect for our stakeholders, so any perception (that) there could be animosity based on this topic is incorrect.”
He said the sanctioning body will continue to solicit input from all team owners when making policy decisions. “Every car owner in here has a voice;” he said, “crew members, drivers (and) crew chiefs. We take that input and make what we think are the best decisions that are good for the whole sport.
“We will continue to operate that way. Our intention is to build NASCAR collectively.”
RTA Chairman Rob Kauffman – co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing – denied reports this week that the group intends to lobby NASCAR for a larger percentage of next year’s new, $8.3 billion television contract, saying they will work primarily toward producing cost savings in areas like rental cars, hotel accommodations, air travel and insurance premiums; efforts that Helton said NASCAR supports.
“We take very seriously our responsibility to make decisions in this sport (and) in the garage area, for the race tracks and the other partners that we have,” he said. “Part of that responsibility is to have a sport that has a great product at great race tracks for our fans, and the owners have been very clear that that is their intention, too. We stand together very clearly on that.”
He stressed, however, that the RTA will not change NASCAR’s approach to governing the sport, saying, “We believe that the way we (manage) our form of motorsports has worked. We continue to add assets and value in order to create and grow the sport.”
He also said that NASCAR will continue to seek input from all team owners -- large and small – in an effort to “limit the barrier of entry the best we can… in the garage area of our series (and) to encourage people who want to be owners, drivers or crew members to be part of this sport.”