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Brian France praises Dale Earnhardt Jr., young drivers in media session

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400

RICHMOND, VA - APRIL 30: NASCAR Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Brian France speaks with the media during a press conference prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

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NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France met with the media before Sunday’s Cup race Richmond International Raceway.

Here are highlights of what he said:

On Dale Earnhardt Jr:

“He’s meant a lot to the sport in many ways, on and off the track. Not just his popularity but to carry on the Earnhardt name in such a good way. Always competitive on the track. Always raced at a high level and always worked with NASCAR to make the sport better, just like his father did. That’s not always the case with drivers who come in. Some of them just drive the car. That’s what they do. Dale Jr. was quieter about that, but nonetheless that was important to him, to always give his input in a quiet way and we always listened to him.’’

On young drivers coming up:

“If you look back at our history, we always tend to see drivers in waves move in one direction. It’s really not uncommon to have three, four or five of your top drivers exit for different reasons within a short period of time. The good news is, and you guys have seen the talent pool that is coming, it is deep. We’re excited about that. I always tell them this, they’ve got to compete at high level and they can’t be humble about that. They can’t be humble as they race out there with veteran stars that they looked up to. They can’t be humbled to say I’m happy to be here. They’re here for a reason, they’re very, very good.’’

On Monster Energy’s series sponsorship:

“I’d say in one word, great. Digitally and socially they’re one of the leading companies in the county and how to manage that new frontier. By the way, they’ve never had a property at this level. They’re doing this all in the first couple of months. We’re excited to have them.’’

On sponsorship woes for some teams and drivers:

“It’s only April. Those kind of decisions from a corporate America are typically made in August or September, something like that. I know that the team owners, talked to Rick Hendrick the other day, he’s already met with Nationwide as an example. They understand the changes that are coming. Those are the kind of discussions team owners have with their sponsors. Pick a year, we always see somebody, Richard Petty at one point, we always see at one point, why are they not doing well in that area for one reason or another. We’ve always had that. That’s not anything abnormal. It always gets worked out over time because the property works in a way for many companies that they can’t do in any other sport. They can’t own a team in any other sport as they can here.’’

On reaching millennials:

“Understand that the digital age is well within the present and future. We’re going to focus on that. We’re going to focus on social. We’re very focused on getting young fans, by the way we’re not isolated here. Every sport is trying to unlock the new consumption levels and fan interest by a young demographic. Of course we love our core fan. Every sport is thinking carefully how to reach millennial fans and get them excited about their sport.’’

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