Brian France NASCAR

Published: March 2, 2016

Brian France NASCAR, The crowd loved NASCAR and so here came “NASCAR” or at least enough of it to throw the sport smack dab in the middle of a contentious Republican primary, reversing course from last summer and rankling Marcus Lemonis, a high-level executive who, like the Donald himself, is a highly successful entrepreneur who stars on a reality television show.

In the process, NASCAR, and sports in general, were reminded of the dangers of wading into impassioned waters of the political world, where supporting anyone is sure to anger someone. That included Lemonis, who on Monday led the charge for fans who’d prefer their sports league stays neutral, if only because this might actually matter.

“If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now,” Trump noted. “Nobody [else] can win.”

Trump may be correct, at least with Tuesday’s voting taking place across parts of the sport’s traditional southern base. It’s why Trump was so excited to bring out his latest endorsements.

It started with Brian France, NASCAR’s CEO. This one was significant. France doesn’t just run NASCAR, his family is synonymous with the sport since his grandfather Bill Sr. helped found it in 1948 in Daytona Beach, Fla. While NASCAR later noted that the endorsement was a “private, personal decision by Brian” and not an official proclamation, it’s almost impossible to separate the two. Any limitations to the support were not apparent at the nationally televised rally.

“You know about his winning, and business and success,” France said to the crowd, before noting Trump’s personal life. “He wins with his family. Any of his children, you’d be proud of having them as part of your family. That’s how I judge a winner, how somebody manages their family and raises their family.”

It was enough for Trump to consider this an endorsement from the entire “NASCAR brand,” as he later put it in a statement from his campaign. While that may not be technically correct, you can hardly blame him. France didn’t come alone; he arrived with four current or retired Sprint Cup drivers.

That included Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, 60, a former Cup Champion and two-time Daytona 500 champion. Fans voted him NASCAR’s most popular driver a record 16 times, annually besting legends such as Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Elliott was joined by his son, Chase, 20, a promising rookie who is considered NASCAR’s next big star.

In the theory of all-politics-are-local, the Elliotts are legends in and around Dawsonville, Ga., a small town in the heavily Republican northern part of the state. Georgia is, not coincidentally, the second biggest delegate prize on Tuesday.

Also there to praise Trump were current drivers David Ragan, a native of Unadilla in South Georgia, and Ryan Newman, a Daytona 500 champion from Indiana.

“This is a great man,” Chase Elliott said of Trump. “I think he’s a guy who can do some great things for us.”

Trump beamed.


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