Everyone was elated when Chase Elliott won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, but the elation was short lived when Brian France, the CEO of NASCAR, was arrested Sunday for driving under the influence and being in possession of a controlled substance. His field sobriety test was over two times the legal limit. After spending a night in jail, he was released the next morning.
NASCAR is having trouble drawing fans and keeping sponsors, so this incident with its leader will not help. France took over the controls of NASCAR in 2003 and his reign as CEO has been very rocky. Many fans blame France for the steady decline NASCAR has had over the last decade. Several key people in the sport, including former driver and current team owner Tony Stewart, have criticized France for his lack of interest in attending races. France was not at Watkins Glen. Instead he was in the Hamptons. Perhaps this incident would not have happened if he had been at the race.
A man in his position could have easily had a limo drive him to the airport, but France made the conscious decision to drive while impaired. France released a statement saying that he is taking an “immediate leave of absence” from the sport. His uncle Jim France, now 73, will take over Brian’s role as chairman and CEO of NASCAR on an interim basis.
As for last Sunday’s race at the Chicagoland Speedway, it was business as usual for the “big three.” Kevin Harvick was dominant, leading over half the 200-lap race and winning both stages and the race. This was Harvick’s seventh win this year and the third time he has won all stages and the race. Harvick tied Bill Elliott for 17th on the all-time Cup Series wins with 44 career triumphs.
Kyle Busch, one of the “big three,” had a great car and finished third.
Martin Truex Jr., the third member of the “big three,” had a car that could keep up with Harvick and Busch, but gambled on fuel and ran out at the end of Stage 2. Having to pit while the pit road was closed, he sustained a penalty, losing a lap. He rebounded to finish 14th.
Harvick took the lead in playoff points with 40, followed by Busch (35) and Truex (27). With three regular season races left, Alex Bowman has a 62-point lead over Ricky Stenhouse for the final playoff spot. Two of the three remaining regular season races are in Bristol (Saturday night) and Darlington (Sept. 2) where anything can happen. Maybe we could see another unique winner that would spell trouble for Bowman.