NASCAR now owns the Daytona International Speedway – home of the venerable season-opening race – as well as several other tracks included in the $2 billion acquisition. While big changes related to the deal aren’t expected until 2021, the transaction gives NASCAR unprecedented control over its racing schedule as it reshapes its business to appeal to younger fans.
“It makes a big difference,” NASCAR Chairman Jim France said of the merger. “It gives us an opportunity to respond quicker to the changing environment out here with the economy and all the things that are going on that impact motorsports. It was a major big step that we needed to make probably for quite a while.”
Finalized last October, the deal gave NASCAR control over a total of 12 tracks, including Daytona, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR officials have touted venue flexibility as a key element of a push to jumpstart fan interest in the schedule. Television ratings were roughly flat last season after declines in previous years.
Rather than rely on one top-line sponsor for the NASCAR Cup Series, the circuit tabbed four major corporate partners for this year’s schedule – Coca-Cola, Geico Insurance, Xfinity and Busch Beer. Aside from tweaks to scheduling and sponsorships, NASCAR plans to unveil its “next-gen” car for competition in 2021.
With changes on the way, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told FOX Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria” earlier this week that the France family has no plans to divest the brand.
"The France family is not interested in selling NASCAR at all," Phelps said.
NASCAR confirmed this week that it had extended its charter agreement with team owners through 2024. The circuit tapped Penn National, the newly minted majority owner of Barstool Sports, to serve as NASCAR’s first authorized sports betting partner ahead of Sunday’s race.
This year's Daytona 500 will offer a record purse of $23.6 million, NASCAR said this week, revealing the amount for the first time since 2015.
As for the race itself, NASCAR said its ownership of the Daytona International Speedway won’t bring any major changes.
“Fans and viewers can expect to see the same great product they’ve seen in years past,” a NASCAR spokesperson told FOX Business.
The 2020 Daytona 500 starts at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.