NASCAR Furious ABC Bumped Race To Air "America's Funniest Home Videos"

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Jimmie Johnson’s dominance may have taken some of the sizzle out of the Sprint Cup Chase for the championship, but that doesn’t mean NASCAR chairman Brian France thinks Johnson’s last major steps toward a third straight points title had to be relegated to cable TV.

France said Tuesday he wasn’t pleased with ABC’s decision to bump the final laps of last weekend’s race in Phoenix to ABC-owned ESPN2 so the network could air an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

“We didn’t like it, that was not what we had anticipated but we have talked to them repeatedly in the last couple days,” France said. “There were lots of circumstances that we have to consider. They have their own issues they had to manage around. Unfortunately we got the short end of that.”

France, however, says the interests of NASCAR and its television partners are “in line” and that a rare early afternoon storm and a late accident that forced two red-flag stoppages couldn’t be helped.

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” aired between 7:30-8 p.m. in the Eastern and Central time zones. The race had a rating for 4.6 in the 7-7:30 p.m. spot before the broadcast was moved.

“They did not like the idea of having to pull out of ABC and operate the way they did Sunday,” France said. “It is imperative we work closely together with them for scheduling.”

Besides, France knows NASCAR has bigger issues. With the U.S. automobile industry crumbling, France softened his stance on the future of Ford, Dodge and General Motors in the sport they helped create.

Days after saying the sport wouldn’t “live or die” on the fates of the Big Three, France said NASCAR is working aggressively to make sure the companies remain part of the circuit’s foundation. GM’s stock dropped to its lowest point in 60 years Monday.

“We have every intention of them being a big part of the sport in the future,” France said. “We’re going to do everything we can to help them get through a very difficult business cycle.”

That includes perhaps eliminating all testing as a cost-cutting measure, an about-face from a few months ago when NASCAR hinted it may expand testing to 24 days a year for all teams.

“Testing is on everyone’s short list,” France said.

France, however, remains optimistic about the health of the sport despite the economic climate. He pointed out that 90 percent of the Sprint Cup teams have sponsorship for next season and that new advertisers are ready to invest in the series in 2009.

“There are always some unfunded teams,” he said. “One of our goals is to have a system where you don’t need $26 million to put a competitive team forward. It’s one of the things NASCAR has a lot of influence on and we’re working all the time to figure it out.”

France thinks the advent of the Sprint Cup’s new car, which will end its first full season as the baseline model this weekend in Miami, will help teams get through the economic crunch.

“We believe very strongly that this car will deliver cost savings in the long run for sure and for in some cases in the short run,” France said. “It will allow us in the future to take cost out of the equation ... Our No. 1 policy along with safety is take cost out of the industry.”

Just don’t expect NASCAR to shorten its 36-race season. France said eliminating some dates would be “impractical” and shortening some of the races would simply be symbolic and wouldn’t help teams save money.

The same goes for the Chase format. Though he admitted he’d love for the points title to come down to a mad dash at Miami, France said there are no plans to tweak the points system even though Johnson enters the season finale with a nearly insurmountable 141-point lead over Carl Edwards.

“I’d love for all 11 drivers to be within 25 points of (the leader) myself,” France said. “The reality of it is, that’s sports. There are World Series that are not as exciting as others, that’s just the nature of a dominant performance quite frankly.”


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by C on Dec 3, 2008 at 01:10 PM
    I've been dragged off to a NASCAR race or two. Me, my wife and our two small kids went to the track in Richmond, Va. I should mention that SHE is the racing fan in our family. Anyhow, even with us sitting in the so-called "family section" in which drinking and smoking were supposed to be prohibited, those rules were ignored by everyone around us. The track personnel saw this but did nothing about it. The fans themselves ? All I can say is, the crowd looked like a cross between "Hee Haw" and "Deliverance". I have never been surrounded by a larger group of shirtless, tattooed, foul-mouthed drunks in my life...and don't even get me started on the MALE fans !!
  • by Dave Location: Greenville on Nov 14, 2008 at 06:31 PM
    They need to rename this colossal waste of time to NASTYCAR.
  • by deadfish Location: nc on Nov 13, 2008 at 10:39 PM
    The subject: I can't get ch-1 12 HD. I can get ALL ESPN HD's channels. It works fine for me. Had I mentioned the racial slur Anonymous used and my comment(s) would have been deleted or grossly edited. I mentioned that before on another post that the editing is biased and inconsistent. Dave NASCAR is a good sport and it is NOT perfect and neither are you. Needless to mention you can't drive a NASCAR CAR so why be so negative? Please don't tell that this is a democracy. WITN editor: WHY do you let another racial slur by Old School slip by? I give-up...
  • by Anonymous on Nov 13, 2008 at 10:33 AM
    NASCAR- Non-working Alcoholic Slobs Crazy About Rednecks.
  • by obvious on Nov 13, 2008 at 10:15 AM
    they are still racing nascar... the season is way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way way too long
  • by Dave Location: Greenville on Nov 13, 2008 at 05:38 AM
    WHO CARES?? NASCAR is the biggest waste of gas in this country!
  • by DK Location: Greenville on Nov 12, 2008 at 06:34 PM
    I dont care which station they have it as long as it aint Fox. I just wish Darrel Waltrip was commenting on every race. He should be Nascar's #1 guy.
  • by Yeech! on Nov 12, 2008 at 04:19 PM
    NASCAR- Non-working Alcoholic Slobs Crazy About Rednecks. I heard this one in California.
  • by duh Location: home on Nov 12, 2008 at 02:24 PM
    wish they would stick to a decent station like NBC....ABC sucks anyway!
  • by DK Location: Greenville on Nov 12, 2008 at 12:34 PM
    Here we go with the NASCAR jokes. They are old and have already been said thousands of times so please refrain from your unoriginal washed down jokes. I dont care what people say, but stock car racing IS a sport and is just as competitive if not more than any other sport. It is surely more interesting to watch than golf or baseball. Not to mention that you cant die from shooting a 3 pointer, but you CAN die in turn 4. If you dont think it takes an athletic person to drive a stock car, try putting 800 pounds of force against your body about 1000 times over the coarse of 4 hours. Try wearing a long sleeved suit in a car with no a/c in 100 degree heat for 4 hours. Try to control a 3400 lb. machine going 180 among 43 other 3400 lb. machines trying to pass you. Oh yeah, try hitting a wall at speed and see how well it feels. NASCAR may have its problems, (which I think they will work out) but stock car racing will always be here no matter what you haters say. Stock car racing is a sport.
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