It is quit unusual for NASCAR’s President Mike Helton to open up the day with a press conference, but he did just that on Friday.
Helton said the sanctioning body was “very pleased and excited about the overall support of the fans” at last weekend’s race adding, “It was impressive. Don’t want that to get overshadowed.”
There were several highlights from Helton’s meeting with the media, including his “I don’t want to speculate” responses to several of the media’s questions. Here are some highlights from Friday’s press conference:
Q. You mentioned that you had seen the traffic plan that was available. What about the parking situation there? Any early indications that that might have been the primary culprit? Any theories of what might have been the main cause of what happened?
-”Well, I don’t want to jump ahead of us finding out the facts and speculate. What we do know, and I think it was obvious to everybody, there was a lot of work done at the racetrack prior to the Cup race moving in last weekend, not just on the racing surface, but in the parking lots. There was a lot of earth being moved out there in preparation to accommodate the Sprint Cup weekend. How all that came together last Friday and Saturday is what we have an interest in finding out.”
Q. You talk about this as the time where you’re talking about sanctions for next year. Are you confident that Kentucky will have a Cup race next year or is that in question?
-”I don’t want to speculate on that type of thing. I can’t help but think, you look at the history of our sport, we’ve had issues that happen, and we generally figure out how to work through them. I think what we’re after right now is to figure out what happened in Sparta and figure out what the cure is for it. Outside of that, I don’t have an opinion at this point. But we’re working toward a resolution.”
Q. Several people have proffered explanations or comparisons, talking about the first race at Texas and so forth. Is it fair to say that what transpired at Kentucky last weekend went beyond opening-night snafus? Was it a bigger deal than something related to somebody’s first event? Seemed a little bit more widespread.
-” Well, I try not to offer opinions or speculate. There’s two things. One is we have had inaugural occurrences, like Texas and Vegas and others, that I wouldn’t define as acceptable, but we have had them as experience. The other point is that this was not our first race at Kentucky Motor Speedway. We have had several years of Nationwide and Truck races there. I grant you the physical layout of the surrounding area outside the racetrack was under significant changes. So what I think we have an interest in is in finding out exactly what happened Saturday night, did all those changes contribute to that and did it really maybe compound the situation. Was there overconfidence from the fact they had raced there for 10 years and not taken in full consideration of the physical changes that were taking place. Those are the kind of questions we’ll have to get to the bottom of to figure out the solution.”