NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France highlighted the historical significance of Sunday's Sprint Cup race when he discussed the state of the sport with reporters Friday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway media center.

"One way or the other, this weekend we're going to make a little bit of history or a lot of history, depending on how it goes," France said. "Jimmie Johnson could make history with his fourth consecutive championship - quite an accomplishment. We could make history if Jimmie has a problem and Mark Martin wins, he would be the oldest champion in NASCAR history to win a title.

"We could make history either way if Rick Hendrick, and he will, wins his ninth championship and ties Richard Petty. Either way, however it goes out this weekend, it will culminate a good season of racing and we're excited about that, whatever the outcome is."

In a wide-ranging discussion, France stressed the importance of continued cost-saving efforts.

He indicated that NASCAR will review on an annual basis its limitations on testing at tracks that host events in the top three national touring series, with an eye toward expanding the policy as the economy improves.

"There's some balance between no testing at all, which is the best savings equation for the teams, for sure, and having testing the way it was done in the past, which was a lot of testing," France said. There's more publicity for the markets when teams are testing, getting the events revved up in advance.

"Rookies, teams that are behind from a competition standpoint, can make up some ground in the testing deal, if it's available to them. So there's some perfect balance. We obviously have chosen to go the route of the cost savings, knowing that that has some consequences that are not perfect for all the things I just described.

"As we can dial it back, as the economy gets better, we will. I don't think we'll dial it back to the level we were two or three years ago where there was an enormous cost, some benefit, but too much cost. So we'll be dialling it as we go, as we watch the economy."

France also indicated satisfaction with the Chase format for determining the Cup champion, though he said NASCAR might look at minor refinements to the playoff system.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News

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