NASCAR seeking stock buy of ISM Raceway’s owner to combine into one company

The “stock” in NASCAR stock car racing has taken on a different and significant meaning.

International Speedway Corp., ISM Raceway’s parent company and owner/operator of 13 motorsports facilities, received a non-binding offer from NASCAR to acquire all of the outstanding shares at $42 a share. The ISC board of directors’ two-day meeting concluded Friday in Scottsdale ahead of Sunday’s Can-Am 500 Monster Energy Cup Series race.

The racing industry has been rife with rumors in recent months that the founding France family was interested in selling NASCAR, which is their privately held company. ISC is publicly traded. The disclosure document said the intention is to combine the two into one privately held group of companies with the France family as primary owners.

“In a highly competitive sports and entertainment landscape, a more unified strategic approach is important to our future growth,” said Jim France, ISC and NASCAR chairman and CEO. “We believe the industry requires structural changes to best position the sport for long term success and this offer represents a positive step forward in that direction.”

NASCAR’s proposal letter indicates there would be no impact on the France family’s “long-term commitment to the sport, nor its interest in maintaining its current ownership in ISC, as the family is not interested in selling its shares of ISC at this time.”

Mr. President

Brian France hasn’t been seen at a race since he took a leave of absence as NASCAR chairman last August following his arrest for DUI and illegal possession of a controlled substance.

Asked if France will return, new NASCAR President Steve Phelps told The Republic, “That’s Jim’s and Lesa’s (France Kennedy, Brian France’s sister) and the Board’s decision … Brian seems to be doing really well and we’re happy about that.”

Amidst rules controversies and declining TV and at-track audiences, Phelps described his role as “to try to bring the industry together.

“I’ve been told I’m looking at it through rose-colored glasses, but I still believe NASCAR is the best place for sponsors to do business. We are the sport that does business better than anyone.

“The reason for that is our fan base. They understand the role that sponsorship plays. By supporting goods and services that support this sport, they know it puts their sport on the racetrack. No other sport does that. We are open for business and are the best place for sponsors to come for a return on their investment.”

Sadler’s sunset

Elliott Sadler is still trying for his first NASCAR championship as he gets ready to end his almost quarter-century career next weekend. He’s won in all three NASCAR national series and has enough Xfinity Series points that he could become championship-eligible with a good finish in Saturday’s Whelen Trusted to Perform 200.

Sadler, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier, Matt Tiff, Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric are those with a shot to battle already-in Cole Custer for the title.

Ride swap

It won’t be a publicity stunt when seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and double Formula One world titlist Fernando Alonso trade cars to try their hands at a different high-speed experience Nov. 26 in Bahrain. A Johnson No. 48 Chevy is en route and Alonso’s McLaren-Renault will be brought from the previous day’s Grand Prix season-finale in Abu Dhabi.

The two spoke via Skype in the media center on Friday. Alonso, who says he will retire from F1 at year’s end, was in Brazil for this Sunday’s GP. Johnson said he’s been advised to strengthen his neck muscles because of the high cornering G forces of an F1 car.

“I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of my fans,” Johnson said.

Pit  stops

– Austin Cindric will be the full-time driver of Roger Penske’s No. 22 Xfinity Series Ford next year, with new sponsor MoneyLion. Cindric is the son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric, who said he stays out of such decisions “because I have a little bit of a conflict of interest.”

– DC Solar, sponsor of the raceway’s pavilion, will sponsor Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Xfinity Series Chevy next season with new full-time driver Ross Chastain. He made three starts in the Camaro this year, winning in Las Vegas.

– Aric Almirola will return for a second season in the No. 10 Smithfield Ford in 2019.

– Most drivers are expected to practice entering and exciting the reconfigured pits during Saturday’s final practice. “It’s way different than before,” Kyle Busch said. “That’s something we have to recalibrate so we’ve have the correct speed (45 mph).”

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