Drivers embrace Jim France as NASCAR’s interim leader

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Clint Bowyer had pleasant things to say about interim NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France when asked about him Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

France took over the post earlier this week when it was announced his nephew, Brian France, was taking an indefinite leave of absence to focus on his “personal affairs” after his arrest for aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance, oxycodone.

Jim France, vice chairman and executive vice president, co-owns NASCAR with Lesa France Kennedy, his niece. He has a solid reputation within the garage for being close with team owners and competitors, as well as for his work in sports car racing.

“[Former NASCAR president] Mike Helton took us on a fishing trip when I first started, and we were down in Miami and got to spend some time with [Jim France] fishing,” Bowyer recalled. “I was young. I think I was 25 years old and I got to hang with Jim all weekend long, and he’s a really neat guy. A racer. When you really get to know him and talk to him and get some words out of him, he knows what is going on.

“He loves that sports car racing, loves flat track racing, loves motorcycle racing. This guy is a racer. He is definitely a neat guy. If you talk to him, if you know him, I think you have experienced that same situation. All of my conversations with him have revolved around racing, all forms of racing. For me, that’s cool and a breath of fresh air to be around somebody like that.”

Bowyer said that aside from his trip he’s had additional interactions with France. The Stewart-Haas Racing ace also complimented France Kennedy and her son Ben Kennedy, now the general manager for the Camping World Truck Series, for being cut from the same cloth.

“They’re all racers, they really are,” said Bowyer.

Last weekend’s winner, Chase Elliott, said he does not have a close relationship with France but knows France has a deep motorsports history.

Said Elliott: “I don’t see him doing anything wrong.”

Kyle Larson, who has spoken to France but does not know him well, said that whether it was France or someone else running the show, it can be a positive for the sport.

“I just hope that whoever is in that position takes it serious and does a good job because there are so many people in this industry that want to see it succeed,” said Larson. “Yeah, I just hope that this is a good stop to have a good change for us and get some good momentum back for our series.”



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