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NASCAR chairman pleased with fast start

Wednesday, Mar. 09, 2011

NASCAR Chairman Brian France isn’t leading any celebrations just yet but he’s obviously pleased with the start of the 2011 season, particularly in the improvement of TV ratings in the first three races.

"No one around here is celebrating. We know it’s an ebb and flow thing," said France, who held a national teleconference on Wednesday.

I’ve always said TV ratings are function of many things, including competition and how you’re viewed at that moment by your fan base for whatever reason."

So far, Fox’s broadcasts of the first three Sprint Cup Series races are up an average of 17 percent over 2010.

The ratings aren’t back to 2009 levels yet, but France noted the improvement is a step in the right direction. He also said NASCAR’s job is to make sure it continues to do what it can help fans connect to the sport in all kinds of ways.

People are getting their news, their updates, their fix, in lots of different ways today and NASCAR needs to be on top of it," he said.

France credited the competition on the track for at least part of the ratings uptick – a trend he says became evident last season.

This has been brewing for a number of months," he said. We made a number of changes to get the racing to be as good as it can."

So far this season there has been an average of 41 lead changes and 16 different leaders per race, the most ever in both stats through three races. In addition, for the first time since 2007 there hasn’t been a repeat winner in the first three races and 32 drivers have led at least one lap.

France did offer one caveat, however.

He remains concerned the recent increase in gas prices may affect the sport’s fans, many of which travel hundreds of miles to attend NASCAR events.

Higher fuel prices are never helpful to our fans or anyone who needs to drive to an event or anywhere," France said.

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