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Sports

NASCAR not threatened by new owners’ consortium

NASCAR’s Mike Helton spoke to reporters on Friday.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR’s Mike Helton spoke to reporters on Friday.

LOUDON, N.H. --- NASCAR president Mike Helton met with reporters in the garage area at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday morning and issued the sanctioning body’s first statement on the recent formation of Race Team Alliance -- an economic consortium among the sport’s nine most powerful teams – saying it posed no threat whatsoever to NASCAR’s governance of the sport.

“First of all, we’ve got great respect for all of our stakeholders in this sport,’’ Helton said. “As their business models have evolved from time to time, ours has too. But we’ve got great respect for all of our stakeholders.

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“So any perception that there could be animosity based on this topic is incorrect and very unfortunate. We should set that straight, very quickly.’’

Monday, the sport was stunned by the news Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports had agreed to pool resources to form the RTA in an attempt to formulate a more efficient business model for the ownership group.

While the timing of the announcement came as NASCAR was preparing to enter into a new 10-year, $8.2 billion TV contract next year, Helton said the sanctioning body did not view the RTA’s formation as a thinly-veiled revolt against NASCAR’s “benevolent dictatorship.’’

Rob Kaufmann, an MWR co-owner who was appointed as the RTA’s first chairman, said the alliance was purely driven by the group’s attempt to rein in the spiraling operating costs for Sprint Cup owners.

“We also take very seriously our ability to make decisions in this sport, in the garage area, for the race tracks, and the other partners that we’ve got because we’ve all worked together for a long time to make a great product,’’ Helton said. “Part of that responsibility is to have a sport that has a great product and great race tracks for our fans. The owners have been very clear that that’s their intention, too, and so we stand together very clearly on that.

“Part of our method of operation over the last six decades is to make decisions and we make those decisions by listening to individual stakeholders in the garage area,’’ Helton added. “Every car owner here has a voice, crew members, drivers, crew chiefs, and we take that input and we try to make the best decisions for the whole sport.

“We’ll continue to operate that way. It’s our intention to build NASCAR collectively and we’ll continue to do that.’’

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