CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The president of NASCAR told employees Tuesday the France family that owns a majority stake in the nation's top auto racing series "remains dedicated to the long term growth of our sport" following a report of a possible sale.

President Brent Dewar sent a memo to staff one day after a media report said the France family was exploring a potential sale of its NASCAR holdings. The Associated Press received a copy of the memo from a person who shared it on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic.

Dewar wrote in the memo that NASCAR does not comment on "industry rumors" but did not specifically address a possible deal by the France family.

NASCAR has struggled with recent ratings and attendance declines and several big-name sponsors have scaled back or pulled out. Lowe's, the only sponsor seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has had in his 18-year career, is leaving at the end of the season. Home Depot, Target, Subway, Dollar General and scores of other sponsors have already exited racing.

Additionally, title sponsor Monster Energy signed just a one-year extension through 2019 and NASCAR admitted it is re-evaluating its sponsorship structure.

There have been rumors dating to last season that NASCAR Chairman Brian France wanted out, but many team owners seemed surprised by Monday's report from Reuters citing unidentified sources that the family has engaged investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore a sale. One team owner, who spoke to AP only on condition of anonymity, said France firmly told owners in recent months the series was not for sale.

Television ratings have continued to decline over the past decade and the retirements of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Carl Edwards may have contributed to fans tuning out. But at-track attendance has also suffered and the three public companies that own tracks where NASCAR races are held have all reported attendance revenue declines.

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