NASCAR eyes races in Austin

NASCAR chairman voices interest in Austin's Circuit of the Americas Formula One and NASCAR apparently can mix. NASCAR Chairman Brian France held court last weekend at Kansas Speedway, and one issue he discussed was the $300 million track being built just outside of Austin.

"There's a new facility on the horizon, if you believe what is being written about (it), which is down in Texas, with a big road course," France told reporters. "We have some road-racing products that might be possible, too. Yeah, we'll take a look at that, for sure."

But don't expect Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his legion of fans to be taking over Elroy any time soon. France quickly added that a Sprint Cup race, NASCAR's premier series, would not be an option for the Circuit of the Americas. However, NASCAR also has the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series, and it runs Grand-Am sports car road races as well. France didn't rule out any of those series making a stop in Austin.

Steve Sexton, Circuit of the Americas president, was noncommital after being told of France's comments.

"Many different race series and leagues are contacting us as we build our schedule for the coming years," Sexton said.

In contrast to Formula One, NASCAR has an image of being left-turn-only racing, but that's not entirely true.

"Road courses have always been a part of NASCAR, like the old beach course at Daytona," said Herb Branham, a spokesman for the Grand-Am series. "Road course racing has really taken off. There's lots of bumping and banging. … It makes for great TV."

NASCAR's Sprint Cup series has races at two road courses, Sonoma in California and Watkins Glen in New York. The Nationwide Series has three road races — at Watkins Glen, and at Road America in Wisconsin and Montreal. The Statesman

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