Jerry Markland/Getty Images
The scandal involving Michael Waltrip Racing was one of NASCAR's darker days during Brian France's regime.
Brian France is human. He makes mistakes on occasion. But the sign of an effective leader is to learn and go forward from those mistakes, and France has indeed done that.
That's why his shortcomings as NASCAR's top boss have been relatively few. And when those shortcomings came to light, France learned from them and made vows to not only correct them but to turn negatives into positives.
Here's the short list of France's shortcomings or disappointments as NASCAR's CEO and chairman:
* France tried to do the right thing by introducing a state of the art car late in the 2007 season—introducing it to a full-time schedule in 2008, a full season sooner than expected—with the so-called Car of Tomorrow. Disdain of the car was significant among fans, drivers, team owners and media.
To their credit, France and NASCAR developed the CoT to make racing more equal and bring greater parity to the sport, not to mention to save teams money (which never really seemed to happen). Still, France learned a great deal from the CoT debacle, and that brought about the car's highly praised successor in 2013, the Generation-6 car.
* In 2013, France suffered through one of the biggest scandals in the sport's history, the alleged manipulation of a race finish in the final qualifying race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup this past September at Richmond. While it took a few days to sort through everything that happened—not to mention a major media and fan outcry demanding action—France indeed delivered on that action by sanctioning Michael Waltrip Racing with the biggest fine in NASCAR history ($300,000), indefinitely suspending MWR's general manager Ty Norris and disqualifying driver Martin Truex Jr. from the Chase.
He also took the unprecedented action of adding a 13th driver to the Chase for the first time to essentially compensate for the scandal.
To his credit, France took action that needed to be done, took the heat from massive criticism and did his best to salvage an almost unsalvageable situation. The NFL's Roger Goodell could learn something from the whole fiasco and how France remedied it to the best of his ability.
* France expressed interest in possibly running an NFL team back in 2005, which immediately drew criticism and questions from fans, media, sponsors and team owners about his long-term commitment as NASCAR's leader. He has since scaled back his designs on owning an NFL team and has dedicated himself to running NASCAR with his full attention. Whether he'll oversee the sport for more than three decades like his father did remains to be seen. But for right now, it doesn't appear France is going anywhere anytime soon.
* His divorce battle with ex-wife Megan was both contentious and highly publicized, even with court-ordered sealing of records and the like. Finally, after more than two years, both sides reached an amicable agreement that was approved by the court.
* Finally, France had to endure criticism for the way he handled the indefinite suspension of popular driver Jeremy Mayfield for his violation of NASCAR's drug abuse policy. He took a lot of heat from fans and media, but he stuck to his guns, insisting Mayfield would be welcomed back to the sport if he would agree to go through the prescribed treatment program. To this day, Mayfield has failed to do so; meanwhile, others, like A.J. Allmendinger, have gone through the program and had their racing privileges reinstated.