- 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Schedule UPDATE 3 RELEASED! supposedly will be released sometime this week or weekend.....see my Unofficial Tentative 2004 Nextel Cup Schedule [31 of 36 races 'confirmed'].(8-26-2003)
Hmmmm. NASCAR.com's Buzz section has a Rumored Schedule posted, one twist, it has an open date on August 22nd, Indy on August 1st, Watkins Glen on August 8th, Michigan on August 15th.
All those track have already announced their dates as Pocono, Aug 1st; Indy Aug 8th, Watkins Glen on August 15th and Michigan August 22nd. So not sure which is which? See my 2004 Sched News page for the announcements and rumors of past.(8-29-2003)
UPDATE: being told the 2004 Schedule projected at NASCAR Buzz and USA Today Cup schedule will NOT be the one used in 2004, it has an August open date [which would actually be nice], however dates confimed by the four tracks include: Pocono, Aug 1st; Indy Aug 8th, Watkins Glen on August 15th and Michigan August 22nd are supposedly the dates for 2004 and the tracks I contacted have heard nothing of any changes to them from NASCAR.(9-2-2003)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR has completed work on its 2004 schedules for Cup, Busch and Trucks and plans to release them by Tuesday, sources confirmed. The Cup and Busch schedules feature at least one new date already announced - a second date for California Speedway. North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., will lose one of its two Cup/Busch race weekends. The Truck series schedule will feature new venues, including Atlanta and Irwindale, Calif.(ThatsRacin.com)(9-6-2003)
See NASCAR.com - 2004 Nextel Cup Schedule and column there: 2004 Nextel Cup schedule released
I have updated my Unofficial 2004 Nextel Cup Schedule also, some notes. The Winston will now be known at the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, four off days: 2/29, 4/11, 5/9 and 7/18, so no more 20 race stretch down to 18. The only really big changes were announced a while back, Darlington's 2nd race - the Southern 500 goes to Nov 14th from Labor Day [looks like not at night unless that changes later]. California gets a 2nd race date on Labor Day Sunday at night and Rockingham loses a date. We get an extra off weekend due leap year and the way the weekend work out.(9-9-2002)
- Chicago Announces 2004 Cup date: Matthew Alexander, VP/GM of Chicagoland Speedway, announced the 2004 racing schedule will initially include five races over two event weekends. The 2004 season will open with the Tropicana Twister 300 (NASCAR Busch Series) on Saturday, July 10 and the Tropicana 400 (NASCAR Nextel Cup Series) on Sunday, July 11. The season will conclude with the Chicagoland 100 (IRL Infiniti Pro Series) and the ReadyHosting.com 200 (ARCA RE/MAX Series) on Saturday, September 11, as well as the Delphi Indy 300 (IRL IndyCar Series) on Sunday, September 12.
"We are excited to once again welcome back NASCAR, IRL and ARCA to Chicagoland Speedway," Alexander said. “It is always our goal to give our Track Pack holders the most valuable motorsports and entertainment ticket in town and we will continue to look at ways to maximize our guests’ experience. We will keep working with sanctioning bodies and leagues to explore adding more events to the current schedule.”
Alexander urges race fans to act now so they don’t miss the 2004 racing action. “The world-class racing we have brought to the Chicago market has created a tremendous amount of excitement and an ever expanding fan base. Chicagoland Speedway and our Track Pack has quickly become one of the hottest tickets in the third largest market in the country. Because of the outstanding racing, our beautiful facility and the entertainment value we offer in our Track Pack, we have sold out our grandstands earlier each year since our 2001 inaugural season. I urge fans new to the sport and fans that have followed the sport for many years to purchase quickly so they are not caught looking for tickets that are not available next summer.”
2004 CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY SEASON SCHEDULE*
JULY 10-11 NASCAR WEEKEND:
July 10, 2004: Tropicana Twister 300 (NASCAR Busch Series)
July 11, 2004: Tropicana 400 (NASCAR Nextel Cup Series)
SEPTEMBER 11-12 ARCA/IRL WEEKEND:
September 11, 2004: ReadyHosting.com 200 (ARCA RE/MAX Series)
September 11, 2004: Chicagoland 100 (IRL Infiniti Pro Series)
September 12, 2004: Delphi Indy 300 (IRL IndyCar Series)
(Chicagoland Speedway PR)
So now have 31 of 36 races 'confirmed', looks like the last off weekend of 2004 will be July 18th as New Hampshire ticket holders report that July 25th is their July Cup date, see my 2004 UNOFFICIAL Tentative Nextel Cup Series Schedule(9-5-2003)
- Dover 2nd 2004 date: being told by readers who got their 2004 Ticket Renewals for Dover International Spedweay's 2nd Cup that the date is September 26th, 2004. That is now 30 of 36 'confirmed' by either the tracks or ticket renewals, see my 2004 UNOFFICIAL Nextel Cup Series Schedule.(9-4-2003)
- Michigan 2004 dates have been confimed - June 20 and August 22, 2004 for the two Winston Cup races. Other events are June 19.... ARCA RE/MAX Series; July 31..... NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series; August 1.. IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series; August 21 NASCAR Busch Series(8-11-1002)
- New Hampshire 2004: being told by folks that they have gotten renewals for the 2nd 2004 race at Hew Hampshire International Speedway, the date? September 19, 2004.(8-9-2003)
- Bristol announces 2004 race dates: Bristol Motor Speedway officially announced its 2004 NASCAR race dates, with events falling on the final weekends in March and August. The Food City 500 weekend, March 26-28, 2004, features a Friday pole day for both of NASCAR's top series, NASCAR Busch Series event on Saturday, and the Food City 500 on Sunday. NASCAR's most popular weekend, the Sharpie 500-Food City 250 weekend, will run Friday and Saturday nights, August 27 and 28. NASCAR's Busch Series will practice and qualify on Thursday, August 26, and race on Friday night in the Food City 250. Teams will practice and qualify for the Sharpie 500 on Friday before the Food City 250. The Sharpie 500 field takes the green flag on Saturday night, August 28.(BMS PR), so that is 25 or 36 Nextel Cup race dates confirmed on the Unofficial 2004 Schedule page.(8-6-2003)
- Atlanta 2004 Race Dates are...: Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark confirmed that Atlanta Motor Speedway will host Nextel Cup races on March 14 and Oct. 31 next season. These are basically the same dates the track had this year, except the 500-miler in the fall will be on Halloween Day.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(8-2-2003)
- Watkings Glen and Sirius back in 2004: Watkins Glen International President Craig Rust said Friday that the Schuyler County racing facility will host a NASCAR Nextel Cup event in 2004. "Watkins Glen is going to have a race in '04," Rust said. "We're signed and have a done deal." Several Web sites have reported rumors that the Glen race would not be part of the Nextel Cup schedule in 2004. These rumors were partly fueled when NASCAR officials announced in January that major changes would be made to the 2004 schedule. Rust said Watkins Glen provides a unique showcase for the series. Watkins Glen and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., are the only road courses the Winston Cup series competes at. Next year's Watkins Glen race will take place on the third Sunday in August -- Aug. 15. Since it began in 1986, Watkins Glen's Winston Cup race traditionally has been run the second Sunday of August. "It is still our traditional weekend, but because of leap year, the calendar gets messed up a little," said Julie Giese, the senior manager of public relations for Watkins Glen International. NASCAR has not released the official Nextel Cup schedule, but Rust said it should be out soon. NASCAR traditionally awards dates for its top series on a year-by-year basis. Sirius Satellite Radio, the title sponsor of this year's Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen on Aug. 10, has a contract to be the event's sponsor again next year.(Elmira Star-Gazette - short term link)(7-26-2003)
- Pocono Race Dates in 2004: The Pocono Raceway [also on their website: www.poconoraceway.com] announced its NASCAR Winston Cup race dates for 2004; June 13th and August 1st.(Express Times)(7-26-2003)
- Talladega 2004 Spring date: been told by some readers who have gotten their Talladega spring ticket renewals that the Cup race will run on April 25th, 2004.(7-16-2003)
- Roush wants more races? Car owner Jack Roush said he wants to add more races to the Winston Cup tour. Listen to the gasping in the NASCAR garage. "Who says we're burning drivers out?' Roush said.'If these were milk farmers, they'd be milking cows twice a day. If they were hay farmers, they would be bailing hay every day. What we do is carry a very exciting entertainment product 36 times a year, and I think we need to race 40 times or more."(see full story at Winston Salem Journal)(7-16-2003)
- Martinsville Confirms 2004 dates: Martinsville Speedway officials on Friday confirmed the dates of the short track's two Winston Cup dates for the 2004 season. The tracks two dates will be April 18 and Oct. 24. The April date is a week later than this season due to the Easter holiday. The October date is also about a week later than this season's fall date. Martinsville also continues to expand grandstands in the center of Turns 1 and 2 above the current press box and suites area.(Thatsracin.com). Added Martinsville to my Unofficial 2004 Nextel Cup Race Schedule page.(7-5-2003)
- More on the 2004 Cup Sched: Through several NASCAR and track sources, as well as Friday's announcements, the following dates have been confirmed for the 2004 season: Daytona 500, Feb. 14; Rockingham, Feb. 21; Las Vegas, March 7: Atlanta, March 14; California, May 2; Richmond, May 15; Charlotte, May 30: Dover, June 6; Daytona, July 3; New Hampshire, July 25; California, Sept. 5; Darlington, Nov. 14; and Homestead, Nov. 21. Because 2004 is a leap year, an extra weekend appears in the schedule and sources confirmed Saturday that NASCAR will take an additional "off-weekend" following the Feb. 21 race at Rockingham. The next race would be March 7 at Las Vegas.(full story at ThatsRacin.com)(6-14-2003)
- Richmond 2004 Dates: RIR President Doug Fritz confirmed Richmond International Raceway's track's first Winston Cup race in 2004 will be May 15, two weeks after the May 2 race at California Speedway. The fall race at RIR will be held on Sept. 11 next season, following the new Sept. 5 race at California Speedway that will take the Labor Day weekend occupied by the Southern 500 since 1950. RIR's spring race had been held between May 3-6 in each of the past four seasons. May 9 is open next year, but NASCAR traditionally doesn't race on a Mother's Day weekend.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-14-2003)
- It's OFFICIAL - California gets 2nd race, on Labor day, Darlington moves to 2nd Rockingham slot, which loses a race: Beginning in 2004, California Speedway will get a second NASCAR Winston Cup date -- Sunday night during Labor Day weekend. This first official move of the Winston Cup Series' "realignment 2004" was announced Friday. The inaugural Pop Secret 500 is scheduled to begin at 8:00pm/et on Sunday, Sept. 5th, and will be telecast live on NBC. California Speedway is touting it as the first Sunday night prime time Winston Cup event. NASCAR president Mike Helton deflected all questions about additional future changes to the schedule. In 2004, North Carolina Speedway, a 60,113-seat oval in Rockingham, NC will lose its second date on the schedule, in the fall. This season Rockingham's spring race was held Feb. 23, a date that has been weather-plagued through the years. The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, a 60,000-seat oval, will replace Rockingham's fall date. The Southern 500 has been held on Labor Day weekend for 53 years at Darlington, the 1.336-mile South Carolina oval. Darlington maintains its spring event, held annually in March since 1957.(NASCAR.com)(6-13-2003)
- July NHIS date: been told many folks have gotten their renewels for the July race at New Hamphire International Speedway: July 25th. So that is three confirmed now, joining Dover on June 6, 2004 (the 60th anniversary of D-Day) and Atlanta on March 14, 2003.(6-10-2003)
- Dover Spring 2004 Dates: folks are getting renewels for the 2004 Dover race next spring: June 6, 2004.(5-23-2003)
- Atlanta Spring 2004 race date: been told that folks are getting renewals for the spring 2004 Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the date being March 14th, 2004.(5-14-2003)
2004 NEWS and RUMORS
- 40-race schedule? [yikes] more on Vegas Reconfig: Cal Wells' [owner of the #32 Tide Chevy] proposal for a 40-race schedule has provoked some thought in the NASCAR garage about where those four races would fit on the calendar. Mother's Day weekend could be one date, or Thanksgiving weekend. Another logical date would be late January. And then there is the question of who might get those four tour dates: if the NASCAR Frances doled two of them out to Bruton Smith, then that might resolve the Texas lawsuit, by adding not only a second tour date at Texas but also a second tour date at Las Vegas. And with a second tour date at Las Vegas, according to sources close to Smith, the Speedway Motorsports boss would almost certainly choose a variable banking design at that 12-degree track, to change the pattern of boring races.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-19-2004)
- Major Schedule Changes Coming in 2005? Mike Helton was on a mission, working the garage the way an ambitious executive works a cocktail party. Moving from stall to stall and team to team, Helton spent Saturday morning before the race at Las Vegas touching base with most of the significant players in the garage -- owners, managers, drivers and crew chiefs. Helton wasn't laying down the law, as he often does as NASCAR's president. He wasn't scrutinizing the cars for potential rules infractions. Instead, he was looking for something far more difficult to locate: a consensus. Helton's task, balancing the needs of the competitors against NASCAR's bottom line, is almost impossible. Rumors say the 2005 Nextel Cup schedule will include dramatic changes, and Helton is trying to address the teams' concerns before the 38 dates (including two nonpoints events) are locked in place.(see full story at FoxSports/Sporting News)(3-16-2004)
- More Realignment Coming: NASCAR's Brian France said he's going to step up the pace of 'realigning' the Winston/Nextel Cup tour to feature newer markets. 'We are moving a date to California for 2004 -- we think that will work better in the long run. And there'll be more of that,' France says. But he said that the moves will be considered 'carefully,' and that the moves will come 'in a slow, methodical way. We're just not going to shred it up to where we lose that continuity.'
The next step is expected to be adding a second Cup date at either Kansas or Phoenix in 2005, or perhaps both, at the expense of races in Rockingham and Darlington. But France has offered no details on that or on any plans he might have for dealing with Bruton Smith and that contentious second Texas race date. However there has been speculation that, as swiftly as France is moving in his first days on the job as NASCAR CEO, that the 2004 tour schedule might not be cast in stone. There is an open date in July ... and the Labor Day Southern 500 was not a sellout, despite all the hype.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-23-2003)
- Mexico? Australia [can I go?] Canada? in the future for NASCAR UPDATE: NASCAR's search for new markets for Winston Cup racing could take a decidedly unexpected twist - think Mexico City and Australia. Car owner Jack Roush says that an early January Cup race in Australia would be perfect timing, since the weather's great, and he likes Canadian and Mexican options, too. While the Indy Racing League would be the obvious choice to replace CART at those venues, NASCAR sources say that the stock-car sanctioning body - which, after all, runs one of the world's most popular auto-racing series - may be approached by sponsors to consider running races at Mexico City and in Australia in CART's stead. Two such Winston Cup races could perk the interest of NBC and Fox, who haven't been making money on the sport they're paying $400 million a year to broadcast. Two venues closer to home, with more logical markets, are Vancouver, British Columbia, and Denver [street courses for Cup cars?].(Winston Salem Journal)(8-4-2003)
UPDATE: NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham confirmed Tuesday the sanctioning body is exploring the "long-term possibility" of holding a Busch or Truck series race in Mexico, likely in the Mexico City area. NASCAR has expanded beyond the continental United States before but only with non-points "exhibition" races held in Japan in 1997 and 1998. "People in Mexico are intensely interested in NASCAR and Mexico borders areas of the U.S. also with a lot of fan interest," Branham said. "It should come as no surprise there would be interest in holding a race in Mexico considering the tremendous growth of the sport." In its third year of distributing its programming overseas, NASCAR started the 2003 season with an expanded global reach including television broadcasts in more than 100 countries in 21 languages each week. "We are working hard to drive more worldwide exposure and attention to NASCAR and we are pleased with the early results our international television partners are seeing in their local markets," said Paul Brooks, NASCAR's vice president of broadcasting. Asked specifically if the 2005 season was a possibility for a NASCAR event in Mexico, Branham said there was not established timetable.(Thatsracin.com)(8-5-2003)
- 37 Races in 2004 [yikes!]? UPDATE denied: Thirty-seven races on the 2004 Winston Cup schedule? That was the word coming out of Bill France's annual beach getaway with select owners and drivers earlier this month. However, Series director John Darby denies a race will be added to the current 36-date schedule. The possible extra race wasn't the only schedule talk floating around. It already has been announced that California will gain a second date next season, and there has been talk the schedule will lose the current off-weekend between the race in June at Infineon Raceway and the race in July at Daytona, with the second half of the season running 26 straight weeks. Richard Childress was among the owners who proposed racing for 36 straight weeks and working the all-star events (the Bud Shootout and The Winston, which likely will be renamed) into the existing race weeks. “That way, when we're done, we're done,” Childress says. “Then we could spend the rest of the time working on cars for the following year.” And owner Jack Roush wouldn't mind racing 40 weeks a year. If the schedule were to grow to 37 or 38 races, speculation is Texas Motor Speedway finally would get a second date. But the searing summer weather probably would rule out a late June date -- even with the television networks' push to move the starting times for many Cup races to 6:00pm/et on Sundays [please. . no. . .](more 'Dish' at Sporting News)(7-21-2003)
UPDATE: On another subject, Helton also reiterated Friday that there will once again be no more than 36 points races on the 2004 schedule, shooting down a rumor that number might increase next year. "My crystal ball is not that big," Helton said when asked if the circuit might include more than 36 points events at any point in the future. "But we said earlier this year that we will not be increasing the number of races in '04 and that has not changed."(ThatsRacin.com)(7-26-2003)
- Vegas on March 7th, 2004? Next year's NASCAR Winston Cup weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway appears likely to be March 6 and 7. The Las Vegas Cup race will be March 7, according to a source close to the NASCAR series. It would mark the seventh consecutive year that the speedway has hosted a Cup race on the first Sunday in March. "I can't confirm (those dates), but those are the tentative dates we've been working with," said Chris Powell, the speedway's president and general manager. The tentative dates would put Cup qualifying on March 5, a Friday, and the NASCAR Busch Series race on March 6. Because 2004 is a leap year, it was thought that the Las Vegas race might have been shifted to the weekend ending Feb. 29 while remaining the third race of the season. The season-opening Daytona 500 is slated for Feb. 15, with an expected visit to Rockingham, NC, the following weekend. Although NASCAR will not officially comment on its 2004 schedule, which might not be released in its entirety for a couple of months, it looks as if the Cups teams will have a weekend off between the races in Rockingham and Las Vegas. Although the Associated Press reported Tuesday that Rockingham will lose one of its two Cup races next year, it is not expected to disrupt the North Carolina track's date in February. Ticket sales for the Cup weekend in Las Vegas currently are limited to renewal orders except for seats in the Earnhardt Terrace. For information on seats in the new section, call 644-4444. Other tickets for the weekend will go on sale in September.(Las Vegas Review Journal)(6-12-2003)
- 2004 Schedule to be announced this coming weekend? UPDATE NO: NASCAR is expected to unveil the 2004 Winston Cup schedule this weekend, and the only major change is that California will get a second race, replacing the fall date at Rockingham. Insiders say Darlington will lose a race in 2005 to an International Speedway Corporation track. Phoenix would be the best choice, but the race probably will go to Kansas or Chicago, the circuit's newest cookie-cutter tracks. Not only is weather seldom a factor at Phoneix, the track has considerably more character than Kansas or Chicago and produces better racing.(Sporting News), it was announced last Friday on Totally NASCAR that on June 13th, the California to Labor Day and Darlington getting the 2nd Rockingham date in Nov would be announced at Michigan.(6-9-2003)
UPDATE: International Speedway Corp.[ISC] has scheduled a news conference for 1:00pm/et on Friday, June 13th at Michigan International Speedway where officials are expected to announce ISC will move one of the Winston Cup race dates at its track in Rockingham, NC, to California Speedway in 2004. In addition, the second race at California Speedway, will be held during Labor Day weekend, traditionally the home of the Southern 500 at Darlington, SC, another ISC track. Since joining the series in 1997, California has usually hosted its Winston Cup race in April. That race will remain, sources said. Darlington's Southern 500 will take a date later in the season, but will continue to host two Winston Cup races in 2004, sources said. Reports surfaced last weekend at Pocono that NASCAR could announce the entire 2004 schedule this weekend, but NASCAR officials on Tuesday said the schedule was not completed.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-10-2003)
- California to Labor Day in 2004: there will be an official announcement at Michigan International Speedway on June 13th that California Speedway would get a 2nd Cup race to run on Labor Day weekend in 2004, with Darlington Raceway and the Southern 500 being moved to the Rockingham spot in late 2004. Rockingham [North Carolina Speedway] will be cut down to one race in 2004, which currently is run in the last weekend in February.(Fox Sports Net's Totally NASCAR)(5-30-2003)
- more on California to Labor Day...Darlington to Nov (brrrr): NASCAR keeps pounding out its 2004 Winston Cup tour schedule, and NASCAR sources said yesterday that Daytona officials are confirming the second California 500 will be Labor Day weekend next season.(Winston Salem Journal), see past news about this 'rumor' on my Darlington Track News page.(5-18-2003)
- Kansas takes Darlington race in 2005? In 2005, the Cup series is expected to go to Kansas Speedway a second time, replacing the Darlington spring race on the schedule. NASCAR officials are not expected to release next season's schedule until late summer, so more changes could be made. NASCAR typically makes the schedule only one year in advance.(Roanoke Times)(5-18-2003)
- Not Many Changes in the 2004 Winston Cup Schedule? RacingOne.com's Pete Pistone has a 2004 Winston Cup schedule posted, saying: "We remind you this is not the official schedule by any means, so please don't book your $400 hotel rooms in Joliet, Illinois just yet. But at this point, this is a pretty good indication of how the Winston Cup road show will look in 2004. Remember, this isn't how we think the schedule should look, but rather how it is taking shape". Check it out at RacingOne.com: Looking Ahead. It has four open dates: 4/11 [Easter], 5/9 [Mother's Day], 6/27 and 8/29/2004. The schedule runs from 2/7/2004 [Budweiser Shootout] to 11/21/2004 at Homestead. Rockingham loses the fall date, Darlington moves from Labor Day to November [brrrr] and keeps the spring date, California is the only track that gets a new 2nd date, on Labor Day weekend. The schedule has the Sept California and Dover races under the lights, no 2nd races for Kansas, Las Vegas, Phoenix or Texas. Talladega moves from the last weekend in Sept to mid Oct. Atlanta in Oct is still listed as a day race as is Bristol in March [great candidates for night races] and as Pete notes in his article, THIS IS UNOFFICIAL.(5-16-2003)
- 2nd California Race? On Labor Day 2004? UPDATE 4: A second Winston Cup tour 500-mile race in California is all but a certainty for next season, according a 2004 Winston Cup tour schedule currently under consideration. According to NASCAR sources, this second California 500 could be run on Labor Day weekend. That would mean that NASCAR's annual Labor Day Southern 500, a fixture on the stock-car tour since 1950, could become history, or could be moved to the current March spot in the schedule when a 400-miler is at Darlington.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-26-2003)
UPDATE: The two dates most mentioned are Labor Day, which will steal Darlington Raceway’s tradition, or the season-ending event, which is currently run at the Homestead Motorsports Complex. Both of these potential fall dates are rumored to be affairs under the lights.(Ford Racing)(4-26-2003)
UPDATE 2:According to top car owners, the California Speedway will be the site of a second Winston Cup event on Labor Day weekend in 2004, although it's unclear if it would be Saturday night or Sunday. And there is the possibility that Darlington, if it keeps two Cup dates next season, might have the Southern 500 moved to the November race date currently held by North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham, just an hour up the road.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-28-2003)
UPDATE 3 - Moving for sure?: The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, a mainstay on the Winston Cup schedule since 1950, will not be back in 2004, an anonymous source told ESPN.com. Instead, NASCAR is moving its annual Labor Day weekend race to the California Speedway and is considering making it a night race. It's not known whether the Southern 500 title will accompany the race to Fontana, Calif. "This could be the beginning of some fairly substantial changes in the Winston Cup schedules and there could be some big surprises down the road," said the source, who is close to the NASCAR family. An official announcement is expected in the near future.(ESPN's Robin Miller)(5-15-2003)
UPDATE 4 - just a rumor? Darlington Raceway officials were stunned Thursday by an ESPN.com report that said the Southern 500 -- one of the biggest races on the Winston Cup schedule -- will be moved to another track beginning next season. Quoting an anonymous source, the Web site said NASCAR would be moving the Labor Day classic to California Speedway for 2004, and possibly turning the event into a night race. California holds 90,000 grandstand seats and is in the coveted Los Angeles market. The facility already hosts one Winston Cup event each season. Thursday's report came as raceway officials were still waiting to find out how their track fits into the 2004 Winston Cup schedule. "We haven't even talked to NASCAR yet about our sanctioning agreements or about what our dates (for 2004) are going to be right now," said Cathy Mock, Darlington's director of public relations. "Nobody at the track knows anything about this. It's just a rumor. In Darlington's case, "none of that has happened," Mock stressed. "Our meeting with NASCAR hasn't even been scheduled yet." Jim Hunter, who served for nearly a decade as Darlington's president and is now NASCAR's vice president for corporate communications, said he was unaware of any such decisions having been made. "Not to my knowledge," he told the Web site. "I think I would know if that was going to happen, and I don't see that happening." Although the ESPN report went on to say that Darlington would keep two dates -- taking the November race from another struggling ISC track, North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham -- moving the Southern 500 would be a massive blow to Darlington's stature in the sport.(Charleston Post and Courier)(5-16-2003)
- Kentucky and California add races in 2004? The 2004 Winston Cup tour schedule continues taking shape behind closed doors, and the most recent word is that NASCAR now may again be moving toward dropping a date from Rockingham and Darlington next season, as France had hinted at in January when he revealed plans for a schedule shakeup, to accommodate Fox and NBC. One of those two race dates is expected to go to Fontana, Calif., for a second tour race, probably Labor Day weekend. The other date, highly placed sources say, could go to Kentucky Speedway, even though the Kentucky track isn't owned by International Speedway Corp. While France has made several references to the Kentucky track this spring, a 2004 Cup date there would be a surprise, because there has been considerable speculation that ISC's Kansas City track would be getting a second tour date in 2004.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-4-2003)
- New York NASCAR's #1 Priority: Over the weekend, Brian France, NASCAR senior vice president and a member of the organization's board of directors, told a group of newspaper sports editors gathered in New York that he would love to see races in the New York and Portland/Seattle areas. France called staging a Winston Cup race near New York City a "No. 1 priority."(Kansas City Star)(5-3-2003)
- Races in December? January? on New Years Eve? California Speedway is expected to get a second tour date next season, at the expense of North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham [thought is was Darlington on Labor day??]. That, NASCAR officials suggested a few weeks ago, might be the only major change for next year. However now there are strong reports that more significant changes are again under consideration. Kansas City is an excellent candidate for a second Cup date, probably early June. Richmond's May race could be moved to Mother's Day weekend, opening up another May weekend, perhaps for Dover. And Phoenix and Las Vegas both want second dates, as, of course, does Texas. There are reports that NASCAR may be in a rush to put out the 2004 schedule. Las Vegas promoter Chris Powell, who suggests that NASCAR simply expand the schedule to include a few more races. Three years ago there was consideration of a New Year's Eve race at the Las Vegas track; currently the tour is idle from Thanksgiving until early February. Some in the Winston Cup garage have suggested that NASCAR add a race in late January in order to open up a weekend later in the season.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-30-2003)
- More Primetime Races in 2004 and beyond? Television networks, particularly NBC, are pushing to put NASCAR's Winston Cup tour in prime time next season, and that means most or maybe all of next year's final 10 races could be run under the lights. Track officials in California are pushing for state funding of the $3 million or $4 million bill to install lights around the 2-mile track, and they've already been giving a special use permit to run a night race here.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-28-2003)
- 2nd California Race? On Labor Day 2004? A second Winston Cup tour 500-mile race in California is all but a certainty for next season, according a 2004 Winston Cup tour schedule currently under consideration. According to NASCAR sources, this second California 500 could be run on Labor Day weekend. That would mean that NASCAR's annual Labor Day Southern 500, a fixture on the stock-car tour since 1950, could become history, or could be moved to the current March spot in the schedule when a 400-miler is at Darlington.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-26-2003)
- The Two Leagues 'Rumor': Bruton Smith's proposal of forming multiple leagues or conferences to expand the NASCAR Winston Cup Series continues to strike out. Smith first offered his "trial balloon" in the mid-1990s and has resurrected it in response to NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr.'s realignment plan for Cup schedules starting as early as 2004. "Create an American League and a National League, where you run two [races] every Sunday," said Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. "You've got a West and an East [presence]. If NASCAR wants to tackle that, it's going to be tough to do, but it can be done. I've studied it to death, and it could be done." NASCAR officials acknowledge they are pushing the limit with the current Cup schedule that fits 38 races, including two non-points events, into a 41-week calendar. But France rejected the two-league system as unworkable in February, and little support for it has surfaced since.(more at Fort Worth Star Telegram)(3-27-2003)
- Night Races in 2004? Maybe Not too many? NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne said that he doesn't anticipate a great deal of night races next season. "If there were more night races added, it would be more likely to be in the second half of the season,'' Pyne said. "I don't see any dramatic change.'' There is a great deal of anticipation surrounding the pending realignment to the 2004 NASCAR schedule. The addition of night races is a hot subject, particularly since the Bud Shootout saw its ratings increase more than 20 percent after moving from the afternoon to evening. Lowe's Motor Speedway has turned it's October race into a night event, and Atlanta Motor Speedway officials have said they are interested in obtaining a summer date for an evening race. Pyne said the new schedule will be out by Labor Day "at the latest.''(Knoxville News)(3-22-2003)
- No Schedule Until Late Summer: It will probably be late summer at the earliest before race fans in the Kansas City area find out whether a second Winston Cup race will be added to the Kansas Speedway schedule. And when an announcement concerning the schedule is finally made this year, it will be just for the 2004 season. George Pyne, NASCAR's chief operating officer, said schedule announcements are typically made in August or September. "I think we will probably stay on that time line," Pyne said. "And when we do make an announcement, it will be specific to 2004." Pyne said that talks about next year's schedule have begun -- but he insisted: "It is just being explored. I don't think anything definitive has been decided." He said that talks about realigning the schedule have been informal to this point. He said that they will "get more formal later in the year. They will get more specific." In addition to Kansas, tracks in the Phoenix and Los Angeles areas are said to also be under consideration for second dates. The presidents of all three of those tracks have been busy trying to put together packages to present to NASCAR in their pursuit of second races. Pyne said it is possible that none will land second dates. He said NASCAR may opt to distribute a race or races to new markets that currently have a track but no race -- or even markets that do not yet have a track. "It," Pyne said of giving races to untapped markets, "is something you have got to put into the mix." Pyne also said it is not certain that Darlington and/or Rockingham will have races taken away. Pyne says that realignment is under way at NASCAR. He said France's announcement in January was part of the ongoing process. The big difference now is that as part of a move to become more communicative with fans and the news media, NASCAR is actually talking about organizational policy.(Kansas City Star)(3-21-2003)
- California looking for help with lights and 15-18 nights races in 2004? California Speedway officials are looking for government help in paying the $6 million needed to install lights for a proposed prime-time Winston Cup race in the fall of 2004. According to one source, next season could have from 15 to 18 night races, most with a proposed 8:00pm/et starting time.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-15-2003)
- David Poole makes a 2004 sched: ThatsRacin.com/Charlotte Observer's David Poole has made a 'proposed' 2004 Winston Cup schedule:
A proposed "realigned" 2004 schedule for the NASCAR Winston Cup series:
February: 7 -- Budweiser Shootout; 15 -- Daytona; 22 -- Homestead-Miami; 29 -- Las Vegas.
March: 7 -- Off; 14 -- Atlanta; 21 -- Bristol; 28 -- Texas.
April: 4 -- Talladega; 11 -- Off (Easter); 18 -- California; 25 -- Rockingham.
May: 2 -- Martinsville; May 8 -- Kentucky; May 15 -- Richmond; May 21 -- The Winston at Charlotte; May 23 -- Charlotte; May 30 -- Dover.
June: 6 -- Pocono; June 13 -- Michigan; 20 -- Sonoma; 27 -- New Hampshire.
July: 4 -- Off; 10 -- Texas; 18 -- Chicagoland; 25 -- Pocono.
August: 1 -- Indianapolis; 7 -- California; 15 -- Michigan; 22 -- New Hampshire; 28 -- Bristol.
September: 5 -- Darlington; 11 -- Richmond; 19 -- Dover; 26 -- Talladega.
October: 3 -- Kansas; 10 -- Charlotte; 17 -- Martinsville; 24 -- Atlanta.
November: 7 -- Phoenix; 14 -- Daytona.
See the full story at ThatsRacin.com: My suggestions for 2004's realignment.(3-11-2003)
- Kansas pushing for 2nd date and will add more seats: Kansas Speedway joined by government and civic groups on both sides of the state line, is pushing hard for a second Cup date when NASCAR reshuffles its schedule for 2004. But if a second date doesn't materialize, track president Jeff Boerger said, the 2-year-old speedway will expand again after this season. Kansas Speedway added 1,500 seats in the offseason after its second straight sellout year, bringing its capacity to 78,000, and has already sold out its 2003 season-ticket package. "We could go, if the market would let us, to 150,000. We have the infrastructure in place for that," Boerger said Monday. Last week, he and other officials presented the track's case to its parent company, Daytona, Fla.-based International Speedway Corp. ISC is owned by the family of NASCAR owner Bill France. NASCAR's realignment could include moving races between tracks but likely won't involve additional dates. That means one of the circuit's older tracks - perhaps Darlington Raceway or North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, both of which now have two races a year - could lose their Cup dates. But Kansas City isn't the only ISC track looking for a second date, and SMI's Texas Motor Speedway has long argued that NASCAR has never given a second date as promised when the $250 million track opened in 1997. "Within ISC, I would say our competition is probably going to be between Phoenix, California and Chicago," Boerger said. "And you know, Darlington is not just going to give us a second date. They're going to give us a challenge."(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-19-2003)
- More on 2004 track/sched changes: Bill France says he's backing away a bit from Realignment 2004 plan after running into some resistance from track promoters and owners. But it's still looking as though his Darlington and Rockingham tracks will lose a Winston Cup date in 2004, and those races will move to California Speedway near Los Angeles and Kansas Speedway, near Kansas City.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-12-2003)
- Changes in the 2004 Cup Schedule? NASCAR officials said today that the sanctioning body is open to a major shakeup of the Winston Cup schedule in 2004 that could see some tracks loose one of their two dates and newer tracks in larger markets gain races. While NASCAR would not mandate the changes itself, it would allow track owners to move races that aren't selling out their current dates to other tracks. NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. said, for instance, Speedway Motorsports Inc. might be allowed to give up one of its Atlanta dates to have a second race at Texas Motor Speedway. Similarly, he said, International Speedway Corp. might move a race from its Darlington or North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham to its California or Kansas City facilities. NASCAR officials also said tracks that don't currently have lighting for night races would be encouraged to add it and said more races would be started later in the day to give them greater exposure to West Coast audiences. NASCAR President Mike Helton said th at even the Daytona 500 might one day be run at night to run during television's prime-time period.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-21-2003)
- More Lit Up Tracks? It is likely that NASCAR officials will address the likelihood that more tracks will be encouraged to add lights to their facilities to provide more flexibility in setting the starting times for races, particularly those in the season's second half. NASCAR is considering later starts to allow the finishes of some races to extend into the late afternoon and early evening hours in an effort to further boost television ratings.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-21-2003)