Nextel Cup to Mexico in 2006, no IRL

UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' because this race may stay a Busch series race. Managing director of NASCAR International Robbie Weiss, one of the driving forces behind the sanctioning body's historic foray into Mexico, said he hoped the Busch Series would return to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 2006. Sanctioning agreements have long been made between NASCAR and the tracks on a year-to-year basis, and Weiss admitted that since his last name isn't France, he doesn't make schedule decisions. But he sounded positive about a return to Mexico next season. "I would like to think from having a successful, a safe event, a very well promoted event, I would like to think we'll be back next season," Weiss said. Weiss also went a step further, saying "This could become the marquee event for (the Busch) Series." NASCAR 03/06/05 As reported last November – The biggest crowd in NASCAR's Busch series history is expected here today for the Telcel Motorola 200. And Fox is broadcasting the race head to head against Tiger Woods in the Doral Open and the ACC finale between Duke and North Carolina, to see how well it will do in the ratings war. If the numbers are good enough – and NASCAR has sizzling ratings this season already – it appears NASCAR president Brian France might turn this weekend into a full-fledged Nextel Cup stop next March. NASCAR's marketing people have pulled out all the stops to make this weekend a success, and NASCAR is a big winner here already, regardless of what happens today. NASCAR is expected to announce a 10-year deal for a NASCAR-Mexico touring series, along the lines of the Busch series. The tour sponsor is not yet known. Busch beer isn't sold in Mexico, but Anheuser-Busch owns 50 percent of the largest Mexican brewer, whose headliner is Corona. Corona was being passed out here to crews at the end of each work day, to ease the pain of traffic on the bus ride home. The track seats 70,000, and as of last week 40,000 tickets had been sold. But this city isn't known for strong advance ticket sales, but rather has a history of event-day walk-up crowds. And yesterday's crowd just for qualifying was a good harbinger. The U.S. ambassador was host to NASCAR teams last night, and Mexican president Vicente Fox was expected to attend, an indication of the high-level politics involved in this NASCAR venture. The Mexican government, according to one report, has a $42 million, three-year contract with NASCAR for promotion of an annual NASCAR race here. Winton Salem Journal

Asked if he believed the Busch Series' visit to Mexico City was a harbinger of NASCAR's top series adding it to the schedule, NEXTEL Cup regular Elliott Sadler was noncommittal. "We got a little work to do with the race track before the Cup guys come," he said. "We've got to do some stuff with the chicane and stuff like that. Maybe one day, we'll see. I think they want to see what kind of response we get with the Busch cars. We always send the Busch cars to test the market a little bit, and then if it does good, the Cup cars may come." Ford Racing

11/06/04 Word here in the Mexico City paddock, where the Champ Car series is gathered for its season finale, is that after the NASCAR truck race in Mexico City in 2005, look for Nextel Cup to race in 2006, but if you are holding your breath for the IRL, don't. Gerald Forsythe, who owns 50% of the Mexico City track said, "after we bring the NASCAR trucks here in 2005, we will look to bring the Nextel Cup cars here in 2006, but we will never bring the IRL here." Mark C.

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