NASCAR changes schedule to kill off Milwaukee IndyCar race

A hectic August schedule of racing, sports and entertainment in Southeastern Wisconsin just got more crowded.

Road America's date on what is now the Nationwide Series will move from June to Aug. 29 next year, NASCAR announced Tuesday.

That puts the stock-car and sports car events at the Elkhart Lake track and an anticipated Verizon IndyCar Series date at the Milwaukee Mile in a three-week span. [Editor's Note: Which should be just enough to put the final nail in the Milwaukee IndyCar race coffin]

The month also includes the Wisconsin State Fair and the PGA Championship, with all five taking place within 70-mile radius, plus the start of football for the NFL, colleges and high schools, all of which vie for attention even when games don't directly conflict.

"There's always so much to consider," said George Bruggenthies, president and general manager of Road America. "But I'm not worried about the Mile. And I'm not worried about Chicagoland."

Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., hosts races in all three NASCAR national divisions — Sprint Cup, the to-be-renamed Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series — Sept. 18-20.

The three-week span between sports cars at Road America and the track's NASCAR date is "enough room, I think," Bruggenthies said.

Road America's NASCAR race will remain on a Saturday, as it has been since the series came to the track in 2010. But for the first time, the premier Sprint Cup Series won't be racing on the same weekend at a different track.

"That gives me an opportunity to maybe get a couple of Cup drivers at our event again," Bruggenthies said. "I don't know. Possibly….That, I think, is a good thing."

Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards won the 2010 race while commuting to and from Sonoma, Calif., but such double-duty weekends have become less common. Matt Kenseth, the 2003 champion from Cambridge, said he was not sure yet if he would be interested in racing at Road America.

"I like when (Cup) guys are there," said Brendan Gaughan, who won the 2014 Gardner Denver 200 at Road America. "It'll hurt for a couple of ringers, guys like (Alex) Tagliani might not be able to get a ride like they do. But it'll have a bunch more Cup drivers there, so it'll be good for Road America, which is, in the end, good for road racing and good for them.

"I tell you, once a bunch of Cup drivers start driving that race, they're going to start bragging about wanting to race more at Road America. That place is still one of the best road courses in the country, in my opinion."

The Road America weekend will clash with the NASCAR truck road race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park near Toronto.

Road America has pursued a Sprint Cup event and has spent considerable money to make the facility better suited. Whether the date change might put the track closer to having a Cup race is unknown.

"Something's got to go away as far as the schedule. I don't believe they're wanting to add races," Bruggenthies said. "But if something goes away, I've got my hand up.

"I have not been told this is a step — that hasn't happened — but it certainly, in my mind, would facilitate that in the future. That's all I'm thinking."

Lining up support events for the weekend remains a work in progress, Bruggenthies said, although Trans-Am probably will remain a part of it.

For the first time, NASCAR this year made its schedule announcements as part of a television program.

Significant changes previously confirmed included the return to tradition with Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Labor Day weekend, the move of Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to a later spring date for the potential of better weather and Atlanta Motor Speedway shifting from August. Atlanta will become the second race of the year.

While Road America's schedule change makes August busier, it does break up what had been four consecutive significant weekends in June, when the track also has held two motorcycle events and the June Sprints, which attracts hundreds of amateur competitors.

Road America continues to be interested in IndyCar, and Bruggenthies said he talked with Derrick Walker, the sanctioning body's president of operations and competition, earlier this month. Scheduling and costs have been obstacles.

"I reached out my hand; I haven't heard anything back," Bruggenthies said. JSOnline

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