Last week's Mud-Summer Classic at Eldora Speedway was a success. There is no doubt that fans, drivers, teams and everyone loved what they saw last Wednesday night and that led to many fans speculating on whether we would ever see a dirt race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Could NASCAR add a race to the schedule?
While the thought is a good one, the reality is it is highly unlikely. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has a race ever week from the middle of February through Thanksgiving, with just two off weekends. The reality would be the only way NASCAR would add a points paying dirt track race to the Sprint Cup Series would be to take a date away from a track something that is easier said then done. Add that with Bruton Smith trying to move a date from Charlotte and NASCAR appears to have some thinking to do.
When fans immediately discuss the topic of taking a date away from a racetrack, the track of Pocono Raceway always seems to come up. This makes sense. The long flat racetrack can be a bore to fans sometimes. Especially since the Sprint Cup Series goes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a track very similar to Pocono Raceway. The one problem is that the Mattioli family and the France family are really tight. According to reports earlier in the year the family even owns a bit of the sport. It is highly unlikely the Sprint Cup Series doesn't run two races at Pocono Raceway anytime soon.
So that leaves the other 20 racetracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule. You also have to look at the two big track owners in the sport. International Speedway Corporation, owns several racetracks across the country. Those tracks include Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Phoenix International Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Darlington Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Chicagoland Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. The company is owned by the France family.
Then comes Speedway Motorsports Incorporated, another company owned by businessman Bruton Smith. Smith owns Bristol Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway. Smith has moved a lot of dates for his Sprint Cup tracks in recent seasons and Smith has announced he wants to do it again.
Only Pocono Raceway, Dover International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are owned by independent companies, the only three on the schedule not owned by ISC or SMI.
Smith has made it known he wants to get a second date for his Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. The latest rumor has been that Smith will move the October date at Charlotte Motor Speedway and move it to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, much to NASCAR's dismay. NASCAR would hate to see a date taken from Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR's hometrack.
Smith, however, is destined to get a date for Las Vegas no matter where it comes from. It is extremely unlikely that Smith will convince NASCAR to give Las Vegas Motor Speedway a second date from an ISC track. ISC makes a ton of money per race and to lose money and hand it over to Bruton Smith really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That means for Smith to get his desired second date for Las Vegas it would have to come from one of his own tracks.
Smith makes a lot of money at Bristol Motor Speedway and it is unlikely he will move a date from that track. New Hampshire has sold out the last three races there, Texas Motor Speedway has good attendance. Sonoma, Kentucky, and Auto Club Speedway all have one date, which means he won't take a date from that track. Charlotte Motor Speedway is the one track Smith wants to move, but NASCAR has expressed their displeasure with that.
If one of the Charlotte races is moved in favor of Las Vegas it would make for an interesting scenario for NASCAR. Most NASCAR teams are based in or around the Mooresville, North Carolina area. To keep costs down in the early to mid 1990's there were several races in or around North Carolina. Teams wouldn't have to travel as far or pay for hotel expenses. They could go home after the races and practice sessions instead of paying the extra money.
Since 1996 though several tracks around the North Carolina area have come off the schedule. Two races at North Wilkesboro Speedway left after the 1996 season. Then the races at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham were taken away. Darlington Raceway in South Carolina now only has one race. Even Atlanta Motor Speedway lost a date.
NASCAR's biggest fan base is in the southeast and the teams are based there. If Smith decides to move a date from Charlotte Motor Speedway, that would leave two races in both North and South Carolina. There is also talk that NASCAR could move the All-Star race. If that happens, what would that do to the southeast fan base? Would some NASCAR teams consider moving out of North Carolina and more towards the center of the country to be closer to more tracks? Could that happen?
Then you come back to the issue of a dirt race. Where would NASCAR find the space in the schedule to add a dirt track race to the schedule. It's all about money. If NASCAR can't find a date for Iowa Speedway, it is unlikely NASCAR would find a date for a smaller, less capacity dirt track.
With all this speculation flying around you may be confused about who owns what track and what goes on with the schedule from here on out. There isn't a whole lot anyone can do, as far as adding races to the schedule. Thirty-six races is plenty and having to add another doesn't make sense.
So will we see a dirt race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule? It's not likely. Some NASCAR fans and analysts feel Iowa Speedway needs to be bought by ISC or SMI to get a date in the Sprint Cup Series. It happened to Kentucky. It's a scary realization that NASCAR fans need to consider. In five years there won't be much movement to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, like it or not.
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