2006 CUP SCHEDULING NEWS/RUMORS
2005/2006 NEWS and RUMORS
- 2006 UNOFFICIAL Nextel Cup Series Schedule page
- 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule announced: The 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule was announced today, a 36-race slate starting with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Daytona International Speedway and ending with the Ford 400 on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In addition to those 36 “points” events, there also will be two “non-points” events – the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona set for Feb. 11 and the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 20 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Also, the two 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500 – the Gatorade Duel at Daytona – will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16. There are no schedule changes from 2005 in terms of sites. Two tracks, though, have “swapped” race weeks.
Next season, Richmond International Raceway’s spring race will be held on May 6, with Darlington Raceway’s event on May 13; this season, Darlington preceded Richmond.
Also, Kansas Speedway’s 2006 event will be held Oct. 1, followed by Talladega on Oct. 8; this year, Talladega precedes Kansas.
New Hampshire International Speedway again will host the initial event in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the 10-race stretch that ends the season – and determines the series champion. The third annual “Chase” will commence Sept. 17 at NHIS. Starting times and television information will be available at a later date (NASCAR)(9-6-2005)
- 2006 RIR Sched out, no trucks: Richmond International Raceway President Doug Fritz announced the track's race lineup for 2006. The season begins with a doubleheader that includes a Busch Series race on Friday, May 5 and a NEXTEL Cup Series race on Saturday, May 6. The IRL IndyCar Series returns for its sixth annual race on Saturday, June 24. Also part of that all open-wheel weekend will be a USAC Valvoline National Sprint Car Series race on Friday, June 23 and a USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series race on Saturday prior to the SunTrust Indy Challenge.
The season concludes with a new look for the track's September weekend. The schedule will mirror the track's May schedule of events, as the Busch Series will race on Friday, September 8 and NEXTEL Cup Series will conclude the season schedule on Saturday, September 9.
The track will not host a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in 2006, as the traditional Thursday night event will move to Saturday, October 7 at Talladega Superspeedway-also part of International Speedway Corporation's portfolio of tracks. The inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway will be part of tripleheader weekend at that track, including NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and ARCA races.
Once again, all races at Richmond International Raceway will be held at night "Under the Lights." Fans who hold permanent, renewable tickets for the May weekend will receive their invoices starting next week. In addition, those fans who would like to add their names to the waiting list for Richmond International Raceway NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series tickets should visit www.rir.com or call 1-866-455-RACE (7223). The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race set for Saturday, September 10 will mark the track's 28th straight series sellout.(RIR PR)
and see my 2006 UNOFFICIAL Tentative Nextel Cup Series Schedule page for what 2006 is likely to be.(9-3-2005)
- No Major Changes Expected in 2006 Cup Sched: Other than some minor date shifting to account for holidays and such, the 2006 Nextel Cup schedule will be virtually identical to this year's, NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said Saturday. The schedule will be announced as soon as the track operators return the sanctioning agreements they have been sent, he said. The only race that was in question, Darlington Raceway's Mother's Day weekend night race, will return.(Tampa Tribune)(7-10-2005)
- Richmond a week earlier in 2006: Richmond International Raceway apparently will be welcoming the Nextel Cup Series a week early next spring. RIR officials have had discussions with NASCAR about the 2006 schedule, and all indications are Richmond's first Busch-Cup weekend will fall on May 5-6. The Chevy American Revolution 400 at RIR has been held the second weekend in May the past two years. Richmond will swap spots with Darlington Raceway, which will retain the Mother's Day weekend date after a 75,000-seat sellout on May 7 in its first Saturday night race the day before the holiday. Darlington recently was approved by parent company International Speedway Corp. to begin selling tickets for May 13, 2006. NASCAR won't release its full '06 schedule until later this summer, but no major changes (such as tracks losing races) are expected.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(7-9-2005)
- 2006 Schedule: NASCAR’s 2006 Nextel Cup schedule should be released around its normal Labor Day announcement date. Expect no major changes of dates or venues in any of NASCAR’s top-three series for next year, sources said. Normand Legault, who is Canada’s leading automobile racing promoter, was a guest of NASCAR at the Pepsi 400. Look for a Canadian NASCAR Busch Series race in 2007, sources said.(Speed Channel)(7-3-2005)
- No major changes in 2006 schedule? Don't expect any major changes in next year's Cup schedule, which likely won't be released until September.(Sporting News), last year the 2005 schedule was announced on May 14th.(5-2-2005)
- 2006 Schedule, bidding for finale? Darlington race date to be sold? UPDATE Denied: NASCAR executives are working on the 2006 Nextel Cup tour schedule, and one suggestion from teams in the garage is for NASCAR to move the season finale to different tracks, as the Super Bowl is moved, with that date up for bids to the track owner willing to post the largest purse. But there are indications that the International Speedway Corp.[ISC] may be willing to sell Darlington Raceway and its lone remaining Cup tour date to track owner Bruton Smith, to move that tour date to Las Vegas, for a Cup event during the last 10 weeks of the 2006 season. And Smith would be willing to bid on being the host for the season finale at Las Vegas Speedway.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-4-2005)
UPDATE: Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning got a call Tuesday that sent him scrambling: Was International Speedway Corp. contemplating a sale of the old country track to its rival? So Browning, who was displaced when North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham was sold last year, called down to the company's Daytona Beach, Fla., headquarters to find out. "They told me, 'Hey, nothing to it, buddy,' " Browning told The Associated Press. "That was good enough for me. There's absolutely no truth to the rumors whatsoever," he said. "I don't know where they got started." Smith was unavailable Tuesday and the company doesn't comment "on speculative opinions expressed by other sources outside the company," spokesman Jerry Gappens said. Smith has said previously he would "welcome the opportunity to explore additional NASCAR-sanctioned events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway," Gappens said.
International Speedway Corp. spokesman David Talley said there's been no talk of selling Darlington, which has hosted NASCAR events since 1950. His company's focus, he said, is developing tracks in the New York City area and the Pacific northwest. Also, recent improvements at Darlington like its multimillion-dollar lighting system mean "you can surmise that we are very behind the track," Talley said. Browning expects to announce more capital improvements in the coming weeks that will add to the track's viability.(CNNSI/AP)(4-6-2005)
- NASCAR to China? General Motors' John Middlebrook, for years the man who has been NASCAR's ace-in-the-hole in Detroit, for his staunch support of stock-car racing, has a new job - global sales and marketing. And he's heading from Daytona to Shanghai, the Asian city-of-the-future. Shanghai, with some 30% of all the world's construction cranes busy at work, boasts a state-of-the-art race track, which was home to a Formula One race last fall. The F1 race was used to promote the city as a world venue, and sponsoring companies used the race to network into the lucrative Chinese market. "It's amazing - every time you go there it's like a new city, it's growing so fast. I think they've got every crane in the world there building," Middlebrook said. "The market potential for us in our business is so huge, because the number of people there who have automobiles is so tiny, and the economy is starting to really move. We're looking at a lot of synergies with China in a lot of areas. We're working with the NBA in basketball, because that's such a big thing there. And they've got the Olympics coming. So there are a lot of sports things." Could NASCAR use Shanghai as an international marketing gambit, as it did Japan, with its three races there? "I think so," Middlebrook said. "I'm sure they learned a lot from the Japan venture. It may well come down to the sponsor side of the thing. Right now we don't have that many global sponsors (in NASCAR racing), but it's increasing all the time."(Winston Salem Journal)(2-21-2005)
- NASCAR Cup Race in Canada..in 2-3 years? UPDATE: There will be a NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal within two or three years. Maybe sooner. Now the bad news: while travelling road shows like Formula One, Champ Car and, eventually, NASCAR will continue to flourish in Canada, the homegrown road-racing scene is in serious trouble and needs a fast fix soon or all could be lost. These words of wisdom came my way several weeks ago courtesy of Normand Legault, president and CEO of Grand Prix F1 du Canada, the promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix. He was the featured guest at this year's Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame Induction Gala and delivered one of the most important speeches on the state of the domestic sport that I've ever heard. First things first, however. Every time I get an opportunity to talk to someone "in the know,'' I like to bring up the suggestion made to me in an interview a year or so ago by Canada's most successful international road racer, Ron Fellows. He said that a Nextel Cup stock car race on the GP course at île Notre-Dame in the St. Lawrence would be nothing less than a success. Legault seemed somewhat bemused when I launched into my "what-if'' scenario, but then he surprised me completely by saying: "It's true. We (NASCAR) have been talking. It's definitely a possibility that they will come to Montreal to race. We have not gotten down to anything approaching serious negotiations, but we are talking. I would say two, maybe three years, but I think it will happen.'' Fellows, when he first mused about a NASCAR race in Canada, said it made so much sense because Nextel (now merging with Sprint) is an American communications company looking to establish an international presence (unlike the previous Cup sponsor, Winston, which was only interested in the U.S. domestic market). Toss in the rumour that NASCAR might soon try to sell theold Watkins Glen circuit in western New York (thus opening up a road-racing date in the northeast), and a Cup race in Montreal makes all the more sense. "You're right,'' laughed Legault as I rattled all of this off. "With all the NASCAR fans from Toronto, Montreal and New York coming to Montreal, I probably couldn't build enough grandstands to hold everybody.''(in part/paraphrased from the Toronto Star)(2-12-2005)
UPDATE: Normand Legault is the promoter who runs the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal and who has the rights to the two annual race weeks at that Formula One road course on the beautiful "le Notre-Dame in the St. Lawrence in the heart of town. He said he expects NASCAR to run a Nextel Cup race at that track in the next two or three years. "We have been talking (with NASCAR)," Legault told a Toronto newspaper earlier this month. "It's definitely a possibility that they will come to Montreal to race. We have not gotten down to anything approaching serious negotiations, but we are talking. I would say two, maybe three years, but I think it will happen. With all the NASCAR fans from Toronto, Montreal and New York coming to Montreal, I probably couldn't build enough grandstands to hold everybody."
But NASCAR's George Pyne said "that's premature," said he would anticipate seeing a Truck or Busch race in Canada before a Cup race, and said NASCAR is first interested in helping build a stronger grassroots racing organization in Canada and finding good sponsorship support. Legault is on the same page: "We must find a new sense of direction and find ways where we can develop our young drivers. This must include a concerted effort on the part of all the stakeholders in the sport. "I think we should create a forum, a round table, where the stakeholders could discuss ideas, share ideas, with a goal in mind: to emerge with a road map, a creative plan to take our sport into the future."(Winston Salem Journal)(2-20-2005)
- Southern 500 coming back in 2006? UPDATE: ESPN Magazine is reporting [Dec. 6th page 140] that Labor Day racing ma yreturn to Darlington [Raceway] as early as 2006. NASCAR were concerned at the negative reaction to the mothballing of the 54-year-old Southern 500, and that was before LA [Los Angeles] TV stations bailed on the race at Fontana, CA [California Speedway, Sept 5th on NBC], Darlington's replacement, in favor of baseball.(ESPN Magazine)(12-1-2004), been told that the NBC affilaite in LA doesn't carry baseball, so not sure of that reference.
UPDATE: from an ESPN Insider chat with NASCAR President Mike Helton when asked about the 'return' of the Southern 500: "The 2005 schedule that has been released shows the only Darlington race being on the Saturday before Mother's Day. Since we only plan one year at a time, that is the most current answer."(ESPN.com Insider)(12-8-2004)
- Nextel Cup to Mexico in 2006? NASCAR is coming to Mexico next year and had to be impressed with the 300,000 spectators who turned out over the weekend. The Busch series is set to run the 2.7-mile road course in March, while Grand Am is looking at running with Champ Car as part of a doubleheader next November 6. Grand Am currently has its season finale set for early December. Gerald Forsythe, who spent millions restoring the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez into one of the finest road courses in the world, said he was interested in bringing Nextel Cup to Mexico City, possibly as early as 2006.(Speed Channel/Robin Miller)(11-9-2004)
- Cup to Canada? THE NASCAR Nextel Cup rumour machine pointed its radar at Canada again this week during the lead up to yesterday's Sirius at the Glen. The latest story making the rounds is that International Speedway Corporation -- which owns Watkins Glen International -- is trying to find a buyer for the upper New York State facility and then moving its race date to Montreal [Canada]. Sources close to NASCAR say that it would be a win-win situation. Not only would it get a foothold in Canada, it would also get the prestige that goes with racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve -- a Formula One track. While the same sources said that NASCAR's venture into Mexico in 2005 with the Busch Grand National series will be its first step outside the U.S., it was felt that the Canadian market was too sophisticated to accept a tier-two Busch race as the real deal.(Toronto Sun)(8-16-2004)
- NASCAR to Australia [Not]: [besided Mexico] another CART venue that's been mentioned as a possible NASCAR stop, Australia's Surfer's Paradise. Perhaps that was just dreamed about inside some NASCAR haulers. "Surfer's Paradise is fantastic," #32 team owner Cal Wells said, of the stop where John Andretti won an Indy-car race 10 years ago. "My most fun, most enjoyable, most rewarding show. The greatest crowd. Surfer's is awesome." And that could be a January race, which is summer Down Under, and might be preferably to two weeks of Daytona testing for the two relatively meaningless laps of Daytona 500 qualifying. "I think people would love to do it," Wells said. "The people are passionate. It's just a beautiful place. I don't know anybody who's gone who hasn't wanted to go back." NASCAR's last Australian venture was in 1988, at an oval track in the south, near Melbourne.(Winston Salem Journal)(8-8-2004)
- No Mexico for Cup: NASCAR's latest international moves into Mexico and Canada will be boons to the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne said Thursday. But the impact on the Nextel Cup Series will not be felt for years, as Pyne reiterated sanctioning body chairman of the board Brian France's contention that NASCAR has no current plan to take its premier division international. "We don't see in the foreseeable future the Nextel Cup Series leaving the United States," Pyne said. "This (international move) is for Busch and Craftsman Truck Series possibilities. We don't think we're meeting the demand here in the U.S. (with Nextel Cup), but we do see the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as series that could go outside of the U.S., no question about that."(NASCAR.com)(8-7-2004)
- Busch Series to Canada in 2006? BGNRacing.com is hearing that a Busch Series race in Canada for 2006, preferably in Toronto, is under consideration. The Molson Indy, an 11-turn, 1.755-mile temporary road course in the streets of Toronto, is viewed as the front runner for hosting the first NASCAR event in nearly 50 years (anyone remember the sole race held north of the border, won by Lee Petty in 1958?). NASCAR officials recently visited Toronto, touching off rumors they were interested in purchasing CASCAR, Canada's premiere stock car series. Last month NASCAR announced the creation of NASCAR Canada, a joint effort with Canadian sports network TSN. Stay tuned to BGNRacing.com for further developments.(BGNRacing.com)(7-21-2004)
- Truck Race in Canada? NASCAR officials spent last Sunday touring racetracks in Canada, looking for a place to hold a Craftsman Truck Series race. Two issues are holding up a possible tour date north of the border. First, NASCAR uses leaded fuels, and Canada has a strict unleaded policy. The second issue involves the tires, though garage sources aren't clear what the problem is. Insiders were confident a deal will be worked out.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-24-2004)
- More on the future schedule; Nashville and Kentucky maybe? Speculation about NASCAR's 2005 and 2006 Nextel tour schedules continues, and NASCAR executives are now trying to cool prospects of an expansion beyond a 36-race Cup tour. But it appears that Daytona officials are planning to add new tracks to the tour by cutting some current tracks back to a single event. The two tracks being closely watched now are Nashville and Kentucky, which have held Busch races for several years. Among reasons for holding off on any expansion - sponsors might be unwilling to spend any more money on extra races, at least not until TV ratings start going back up. Plus, TV said it's not able to sell enough ads to make money on the current package of 36 Cup races and two special events. While Fox may be comfortable with its half of the tour (Phoenix and Kansas would likely be the only two new stops), the second half of the schedule is more problematic, particularly with NASCAR reportedly wooing ABC-ESPN for part of that schedule, depending on what NBC does.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-25-2004)
- Toronto and NASCAR? Toronto has been included on a "wish list" of markets where NASCAR would like to expand if -- as expected -- it adds four events to its 36-race schedule in The weekend edition of USA Today listed Toronto with New York City, Mexico City and Seattle as markets NASCAR covets. That and this report from The Toronto Sun's Dean McNulty Sources told the newspaper that there are "fairly serious" talks among NASCAR executives to include these four big North American markets in their expansion plans. It's not the first time NASCAR has mused about Toronto as a market for its races, but it has always come back to not having a track to accommodate the 800-horsepower sedans. Certainly the temporary street circuit used by Champ Car for the Toronto Molson Indy would not work for NASCAR.(Sports Business News)(4-19-2004)