New NASCAR president Steve Phelps has a message for fans of grassroots racing who believe the sanctioning body doesn’t care about them anymore.
We hear you.
During a media roundtable at NASCAR headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, Phelps was asked about the perception that the league is no longer invested in those who spend most of their time at short tracks or on dirt.
“I totally agree that this is something we need to do better,” Phelps said. “This is part of the event promotion we’re looking to do with some of our race tracks. If you look at the (K&N Pro Series West) dirt event at Las Vegas, that was very successful in my opinion.
“I’ve spoken to Kevin Harvick, who is a champion for short track racing. We need to reach out to short tracks. We need to reach out to World of Outlaws. We need to help each other. If someone is a fan of racing, we believe they can be a fan of our racing. At the same time, we may be the pinnacle of racing from a popularity standpoint, but we can learn from them, they can learn from us, and we can promote each other in a far better way.”
Over the past two months, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series contender Kyle Larson has went from candidly sharing his love for dirt sprint cars to placing a gag order on himself over what he claimed was NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing officials suggesting he stop because it made his current profession look bad.
Phelps says that is the last thing he wants his star drivers to do.
“So, this notion of NASCAR trying to muzzle Kyle Larson and his love of racing couldn’t be further from the truth,” Phelps said. “We want Kyle Larson to talk about NASCAR racing and dirt racing and things that are his passion. We think he can bring his fan base from other forms of racing that he’s doing to us. And we can take our fans and bring them down to that racing as well, so we all get stronger by doing something.”
NASCAR has a weekly and regional racing division, previously known as Home Tracks, that oversees the Whelen All-American Series national championship, K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour, Whelen EURO, PEAK Mexico and the Pinty’s Series in Canada.