Iowa Speedway hopes to be next to land NASCAR Cup date
Doug Fritz has heard the feedback from Iowans who want a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in their state, and the new CEO at Iowa Speedway is motivated to deliver it to them.
But, as a longtime industry veteran, Fritz understands the challenge of cracking into the 36-race Cup schedule.
"It's a little tricky. It's not an easy process," says Fritz, who was named to his new position last week at the 0.875-mile, Rusty Wallace-designed track about 35 miles east of Des Moines. "It's doable. It's going to take some work. And we're going to put in the effort."
NASCAR has no interest in more than 36 dates, and its "realignment" scheduling policy makes it nearly impossible for tracks to lose races as long as they want to keep them (races are moved only when tracks petition NASCAR to approve such changes).
Iowa's options, under the realignment policy, would be:
•Sell its track to SMI or International Speedway Corp. (the public companies collectively own 19 of the 22 tracks on the Cup schedule) and hope for a Kentucky-like entry. (Fritz spent the previous 11 years as head of ISC-owned Richmond International Raceway).
•Partner with Dover International Speedway (publicly owned by Dover Motorsports) or family-owned Pocono Raceway— both of which have two Cup dates and are experiencing sagging attendance — and lobby to get one of those races.
"If Iowa put something together with another facility, that's certainly something to look at," says NASCAR vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell, who added that the realignment policy "has its pros and cons" and could be revisited as soon as 2013.
"We're happy with the inventory we have in Iowa. It's been more than we expected."
Wallace said in May that his goal was to bring a Cup race to Iowa within two years. Says Fritz, "As soon as we can secure one, we'll be ready for it."