ISC may move a Cup race to Kansas and replace IndyCar UPDATE Kansas Speedway will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2011 with two NASCAR Sprint Cup weekends — one in June, the other in October — and lights for the facility. Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer of International Speedway Corp., will appear at a news conference this morning at Kansas Speedway and formally announce the specific dates. Kansas Speedway, which opened in 2001 with one Sprint Cup race a year, will be one of 13 tracks to have two Cup weekends.
Kennedy, who was a driving force behind the design and construction of Kansas Speedway, pledged to petition NASCAR’s board of directors for a second date if the state of Kansas approved the Hollywood Casino that is now under construction at the track.
Kansas Speedway began asking ISC for lights when the track was host to Indy Racing League and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events during 2001-06 on July 4 weekends that proved to be uncomfortably hot for fans and competitors.
The addition of lights was estimated in excess of $2 million when Kansas Speedway began requesting them, but much of the conduits and infrastructure for lights were installed when the $260 million track was built. When ISC did not approve the installation of lights, Kansas Speedway eventually moved those races to late April and early May in 2007. Now, with a Cup weekend in June and the casino in operation around the clock in 2011, the timing was right for lights at the track.
06/28/10 The France-controlled International Speedway Corp. has asked NASCAR to realign one of its current Sprint Cup dates to a second Cup event at Kansas Speedway, a condition of ISC’s landing a casino license for the track.
ISC’s current smallest venues – all under 100,000 seats – with two dates are Auto Club Speedway, Martinsville and Phoenix.
Not saying where that date would come from, O’Donnell said NASCAR can’t do much in figuring where that second Kansas date will fit into the schedule until it hears from Bruton Smith this week. O’Donnell said the earliest in the year a race could be held in Kansas is in late April, which is the IndyCar race date, but with attendance dwindling there is a good chance the Kansas IndyCar race will be axed.
And where might IndyCar race on an oval track instead before Indy? Phoenix, which is where ISC might move one of their Cup dates from, though in our opinion they should axe one of their Martinsville Cup races. NASCAR has clearly outgrown Martinsville.
In other scheduling news, Indy Racing League Chief Executive Officer Randy Bernard stated that the start of the Indianapolis 500 could move to 11 a.m. EDT, which would allow drivers to compete in both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on the same day.
Smith has said he would like to work with Bernard to offer a $20 million bonus to anyone who can win both races.
“Mr. Smith and I have had some dialogue, of course, and we have some big ideas,” Bernard said. “Part of those big ideas is we’ll have to move the start time to 11 a.m.; Jeff Belskus, who is the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have some say on that as well.
“I think we are all in agreement that an 11 a.m. start has never been a deterrent from IMS. I think it is one step in a positive direction to help Mr. Smith and I for our big thinking.”
Quipped former NASCAR driver and 2010 Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti: “It’s not just the driving, you’ve got to win to get the $20 million. That would be a long day.”