NASCAR looks to buy into ISM track’s owner

The Arizona Republic - - Sports - Michael Knight JONATHAN FER­REY/GETTY

The “stock” in NASCAR stock car rac­ing has taken on a dif­fer­ent and sig­nif­i­cant mean­ing.

In­ter­na­tional Speed­way Corp., ISM Race­way’s par­ent com­pany and owner/op­er­a­tor of 13 mo­tor­sports fa­cil­i­ties, re­ceived a non-bind­ing of­fer from NASCAR to ac­quire all of the out­stand­ing shares at $42 a share. The ISC board of di­rec­tors’ two-day

meet­ing con­cluded Fri­day in Scotts­dale ahead of Sun­day’s Can-Am 500 Mon­ster En­ergy Cup Se­ries race.

The rac­ing in­dus­try has been rife with ru­mors in re­cent months that the found­ing France fam­ily was in­ter­ested in sell­ing NASCAR, which is their pri­vately held com­pany. ISC is pub­licly traded. The dis­clo­sure doc­u­ment said the in­ten­tion is to com­bine the two into one pri­vately held group of com­pa­nies with the France fam­ily as pri­mary own­ers.

“In a highly com­pet­i­tive sports and en­ter­tain­ment land­scape, a more uni­fied strate­gic ap­proach is im­por­tant to our fu­ture growth,” said Jim France, ISC and NASCAR chair­man and CEO. “We be­lieve the in­dus­try re­quires struc­tural changes to best po­si­tion the sport for long term suc­cess and this of­fer rep­re­sents a pos­i­tive step for­ward in that di­rec­tion.”

NASCAR’s pro­posal let­ter in­di­cates there would be no im­pact on the France fam­ily’s “long-term com­mit­ment to the sport, nor its in­ter­est in main­tain­ing its cur­rent own­er­ship in ISC, as the fam­ily is not in­ter­ested in sell­ing its shares of ISC at this time.”

“I don’t want to look like an id­iot in front of my fans.” Jim­mie John­son on his ride swap with For­mula One star Fer­nando Alonso

Mr. Pres­i­dent

Brian France hasn’t been seen at a race since he took a leave of ab­sence as NASCAR chair­man last Au­gust fol­low­ing his ar­rest for DUI and il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance.

Asked if France will re­turn, new NASCAR Pres­i­dent Steve Phelps told The Repub­lic, “That’s Jim’s and Lesa’s (France Kennedy, Brian France’s sis­ter) and the Board’s de­ci­sion ... Brian seems to be do­ing re­ally well and we’re happy about that.”

Amidst rules con­tro­ver­sies and declining TV and at-track au­di­ences, Phelps de­scribed his role as “to try to bring the in­dus­try to­gether.

“I’ve been told I’m look­ing at it through rose-col­ored glasses, but I still be­lieve NASCAR is the best place for spon­sors to do busi­ness. We are the sport that does busi­ness bet­ter than any­one.

“The rea­son for that is our fan base. They un­der­stand the role that spon­sor­ship plays. By sup­port­ing goods and ser­vices that sup­port this sport, they know it puts their sport on the race­track. No other sport does that. We are open for busi­ness and are the best place for spon­sors to come for a re­turn on their in­vest­ment.”

Sadler’s sun­set

El­liott Sadler is still try­ing for his first NASCAR cham­pi­onship as he gets ready to end his al­most quar­ter-cen­tury ca­reer next week­end. He’s won in all three NASCAR na­tional se­ries and has enough Xfin­ity Se­ries points that he could be­come cham­pi­onship-el­i­gi­ble with a good fin­ish in Satur­day’s Whe­len Trusted to Per­form 200.

Sadler, Tyler Red­dick, Daniel Hem­ric, Justin All­gaier, Matt Tiff, Christo­pher Bell and Austin Cin­dric are those with a shot to bat­tle al­ready-in Cole Custer for the ti­tle.

Ride swap

It won’t be a pub­lic­ity stunt when seven-time Cup cham­pion Jim­mie John­son and dou­ble For­mula One world ti­tlist Fer­nando Alonso trade cars to try their hands at a dif­fer­ent high-speed ex­pe­ri­ence Nov. 26 in Bahrain. A John­son No. 48 Chevy is en route and Alonso’s McLaren-Re­nault will be brought from the pre­vi­ous day’s Grand Prix sea­son-fi­nale in Abu Dhabi.

The two spoke via Skype in the me­dia cen­ter on Fri­day. Alonso, who says he will re­tire from F1 at year’s end, was in Brazil for this Sun­day’s GP. John­son said he’s been ad­vised to strengthen his neck mus­cles be­cause of the high cor­ner­ing G forces of an F1 car.

“I don’t want to look like an id­iot in front of my fans,” John­son said.

Pit stops

❚ Austin Cin­dric will be the full-time driver of Roger Penske’s No. 22 Xfin­ity Se­ries Ford next year, with new spon­sor MoneyLion. Cin­dric is the son of Team Penske Pres­i­dent Tim Cin­dric, who said he stays out of such de­ci­sions “be­cause I have a lit­tle bit of a con­flict of in­ter­est."

❚ DC So­lar, spon­sor of the race­way's pav­il­ion, will spon­sor Chip Ganassi Rac­ing’s No. 42 Xfin­ity Se­ries Chevy next sea­son with new full-time driver Ross Chas­tain. He made three starts in the Ca­maro this year, win­ning in Las Ve­gas.

❚ Aric Almirola will re­turn for a sec­ond sea­son in the No. 10 Smith­field Ford in 2019.

❚ Most driv­ers are ex­pected to prac­tice en­ter­ing and ex­cit­ing the re­con­fig­ured pits dur­ing Satur­day’s fi­nal prac­tice. “It’s way dif­fer­ent than be­fore,” Kyle Busch said. “That’s some­thing we have to re­cal­i­brate so we’ve have the cor­rect speed (45 mph).”

Crew mem­bers push Jim­mie John­son’s car onto pit road on Fri­day dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing for Sun­day’s Can-Am 500 at ISM Race­way.

STREETER LECKA/GETTY IMAGES

Brian France hasn’t been seen at a race since he took a leave of ab­sence as NASCAR chair­man last Au­gust.

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