Montreal holding up 2007 Busch schedule

UPDATE #2 In the jubilation of his win in Loudon Sunday, Kevin Harvick may have revealed NASCAR's best-kept secret: When the Busch Series race in Montreal will be run in 2007.

Asked after his win Sunday if he'll be racing in Canada next season, Harvick replied he couldn't, because he'd be racing in the Nextel Cup event at Pocono Raceway that weekend. If he's correct, it means NASCAR will head north of the border on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2007.

09/18/06 For many years, the first weekend in August is the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, just an hour away from Montreal, a Grand-Am weekend. If the Busch race weekend moves into August, we wonder if Trois-Rivieres will keep their Grand-Am race, or if the plan is to move it to Montreal. Trois-Rivieres is a big holiday destination during the summer season. That little town really puts its heart and soul into the event.

09/17/06 It's late September and NASCAR has yet to release the 2007 Busch and Truck tour schedules. Political wrangling in Montreal over 2007 racing contracts for the Gilles Villeneuve road course appears to be holding up NASCAR's release of next year's Busch calendar, which is widely anticipated to feature a summer race at the Canadian Formula One track in the heart of town.

And there has been speculation about a NASCAR Truck race in Monterrey, Mexico. Monterrey, five hours south of San Antonio, is the second-most important city in Mexico, and it's an important financial center.

Montreal city officials and Canadian promoter Norman Legault are expected to sign a contract for a Busch race, but Daytona executives don't want to announce a tour schedule until that happens.

The Champ Car legal action over Montreal's decision to drop an annual Champ Car race in favor of a new Busch race is apparently not any factor in the NASCAR holdup. But moves by the France family's International Speedway Corp. to bring the rival Indy Racing League to Daytona, at least for testing, is certain to raise the tension level between NASCAR and Champ Car. The two are already at odds over a proposed Champ Car race through the streets of Phoenix, with some heavy-handed political gamesmanship going on behind the scenes there.

While July 22, a Sunday, has been penciled in for the Montreal Busch race, because that's an off weekend for Nextel Cup regulars, there is now speculation that NASCAR and ABC-ESPN may choose Aug. 4, a Saturday, instead, during the Nextel Cup tour's Pocono weekend. That would give Legault more time to promote NASCAR after the June Grand Prix. [Editor's Note: For many years, the first weekend in August is the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, just an hour away from Montreal. How would that work out?]

Pocono is 400 miles south of Montreal.

But it's unclear how a Busch road-course race in Montreal the weekend before the Cup tour stop at Watkins Glen (340 miles south of Montreal) might play out logistically, particularly for the financially beleaguered Busch team owners. Winston Salem Journal

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