Mike Helton: No animosity between NASCAR, Race Team Alliance, but ...

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJuly 11, 2014 

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NASCAR President Mike Helton says there are no plans to designate anyone in NASCAR to speak with the new Race Team Alliance, a coalition of the owners of the sport’s nine biggest teams that was created earlier this week.

JARED C. TILTON — GETTY

— NASCAR President Mike Helton said it’s incorrect to assume animosity exists between the sanctioning body and the Race Team Alliance, a coalition of the owners of the sport’s nine biggest teams that was created earlier this week.

However, Helton was also adamant NASCAR intends to continue to conduct business the way it always has.

“We have great respect for all of our stakeholders in our sport, and as their business model has evolved, so has ours,” Helton said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “So any perception animosity exists based on this topic is incorrect and very unfortunate.

“We’ll continue to do business the way we’ve always done business. We’ll talk to a lot of folks to help reach decisions, the way we always have.”

Asked if he considered the RTA a union, Helton said, “You know everything that we know.”

Helton said the only contact NASCAR has had with the RTA so far was a heads-up that it was announcing its formation on Monday morning. He said there were no plans to designate anyone in NASCAR to speak with the group.

“I think everybody in the garage knows how we do business and the role they play in it,” Helton said.

The RTA is composed of nine teams that compete in NASCAR’s premier Sprint Cup Series – Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.

A news release said the organization for the first time creates “a single entity to engage with stakeholders on creative ways to market and experience the power of the sport’s teams and drivers.”

In subsequent interviews, the leader of the RTA, Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman, said the organization hoped to focus on ways to cut costs and increase team revenue.

Whether the group will take collective stances on proposed NASCAR rules changes or issues remains unclear.

The RTA comprises 25 full-time teams, including all of the sport’s major stars and every race winner in the 2014 season.

“Every car owner in here has a voice,” Helton said. “We take that input and make what we believe is the best decisions that are good for the whole sport.

“We have respect for what the owners do through their business models, but the other thing is, we believe the way we do our form of motorsports has worked. We continue to add assets and value to create and grow the sport.

“We’ll continue to do that with the input of as many people as we can talk to individually.”

There was no immediate response from the RTA to Helton’s remarks on Friday morning.

Six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports said he didn’t know much about the RTA but believes its goals are laudable.

“I’m excited for the teams and the opportunity they have to work together and hopefully drive costs down,” Johnson said, “and have a more clear and concise voice in the industry on a variety of aspects, not only to NASCAR, but across the board.

“We will see how things go. It’s obviously very new, but I’m happy that the teams are working together to drive costs down.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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