Schedule Takes Center Stage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The annual UAW-GM Winston Cup Media Tour held this week by the Lowe's Motor Speedway is always a great way to preview the coming season. The four day trek, which includes more than 200 members of the media from around the country, gets a chance to visits race shops, talk to drivers, car owners and crew chiefs as well as track and NASCAR officials. But major news doesn't usually eminate from the tour since most announcements and deals for the new year are already in place.

But this year may be different.

NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne and president Bill France made comments this week about a potential rearrangement of the Winston Cup schedule in 2004. Pyne indicated the move was being looked at to distribute NASCAR events more nationally and said the sanctioning body would be talking more proactively than ever before with track operators about moving dates.

France provided a potential scenario. "If Dover would like to take one of its races and shift it to St. Louis or Nashville, or if ... Bruton would like to take an Atlanta race and shift it to Texas and sell all of their tickets, we're going to be entertaining that," France said.

Smith, who owns Speedway Motorsports Inc., which currently hosts eight Winston Ciup events, denied having interest shifting dates between his tracks.

"Moving anything to Texas is absolutely nothing we're even thinking about," Smith told a roomful of journalists on Tuesday evening.

Atlanta's spring race has struggled to sell-out in recent years and the idea of moving one of its two dates to Texas has been rumored. But, track president Ed Smith isn't sold.

"Why should Bruton give up something he's already got to get a date he should already have?" Clark said.

International Speedway Corporation (ISC), NASCAR's parent company, could possibly shift dates from tracks like Darlington or Rockingham to bigger market facilities in Fontana, Chicago or Kansas, which currently have one date each.

In addition to changing locations, the possibility of additional night races or date changes will also be considered. Prime time events would generate additional television ad revenue and increase ratings.

While nothing has been decided it promises to be a story that warrants attention over the next several months.




Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003

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