France says no mixed message on Keselowski fine

Associated Press Modified: November 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm •  Published: November 17, 2012

France also dismissed the notion NASCAR is walking a fine line between sport and entertainment in relation to the incident between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer last weekend at Phoenix. Gordon intentionally wrecked Bowyer on the track and it triggered a garage-area melee that drew widespread attention for NASCAR in mainstream media.

Gordon was fined $100,000 and docked 25 points in the standings, but avoided suspension and is allowed to race in Sunday's season finale.

The fracas has been in the spotlight, and as NASCAR's ratings have slumped during the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, some are wondering if that drama isn't what's needed to spice up the sport.

"We have a stated approach that this is a contact sport. We expect contact, especially late in the race," France said. "But I always say, there are limits. Drivers know what those limits are, and you can cross those limits, and that's exactly what happened on Sunday. It was very obvious and very easy for us to figure that out and for everybody to figure that out, and so we deal with it.

"If they have any confusion on that, they can certainly talk to us directly or look at our calls and how we've dealt with (incidents) when we think that those limits have been broken, and that will be that.'"

But seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty said the garage-area melee that wound up on Monday morning national television shows is exactly how incidents were taken care of in the old days of the sport.

"The way we handled it was the same as what happened in the garage area in Phoenix — you jumped in there and beat on somebody's head and got it squared away and forgot about a telephone," Petty said. "What's apologizing over a telephone? That's zero, man. Anybody can think that up. There's no emotion, no feel, there's nothing there. Some of you can do anything talking on that deal where you're not talking to people eye-to-eye, so, to me, it's a waste of time."