NASCAR’s biggest day in a long, long time came on Sunday as the son of a legend kick started his career with a victory at Watkins Glen. Chase Elliot, the son of Bill, a champion in his own right, took a victory in front of a euphoric sellout crowd, showing NASCAR that there was still life yet in the sport that has taken a huge down turn recently via rules changes and the loss of big name drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon, among others.
With Earnhardt, along with others calling the action, it felt like a true changing of the guard to another popular driver that would take over the mantle. The crowd loved it, as well as the great racing on display throughout the entire event. It made national news, something that has not been the case in a long, long while for the motorsport, and it propelled sports networks to cover the driver’s first win- win that saw him hold off the defending champion in a thrilling finish.
But all of that had to be set aside on Monday when it came to light that NASCAR CEO Brian France, grandson of the legendary Bill France that created what we know as NASCAR, had been arrested for DUI and possession of a controlled substance. France, an unpopular figure for the remaining contingent of loyal fans to begin with, will now be seen as even more of a bad guy. He has since apologized and has been suspended by the organization, but there is still outrage to go around.
A lot of that has to do with the decisions that he has made. He has helped NASCAR become more mainstream, at least in his eye’s. He’s helped create the Chase for the Cup, stage racing, and other ideas that have become gimmicks in the eyes of racing fans. This only further speaks to just how far out of teach with reality he is. It’s a sad story, but no one should be doing this sort of thing. If NASCAR are going to hold its drivers accountable, as they have done in the past, they need to set a very firm marker down by showing a harsh example. Only then will they show they are serious about listening to their fans’ voices, something that has gone on deaf ears for far too long.