April 6, 2004 | 10:47 A.M. EST
A: Nothing was officially discussed or announced last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, but several sources report the two sides are speeding toward an out-of-court settlement. The final resolution will most likely include the sale of Darlington and Rockingham to Bruton Smith and SMI, who will take two dates to Texas and Las Vegas, with the remaining race rotated between Darlington and The Rock on a yearly basis. Other schedule talk last weekend included NASCAR taking a race from Pocono, Martinsville as well as Watkins Glen and adding second dates at Phoenix and Kansas, with the other race set for the new track in the Pacific Northwest. Look for Phoenix to be the second stop of the season in 2005 following Daytona and for Las Vegas and Texas to be included in the 10 race "Chase for the Championship."
Q: How bad of shape is the Busch Series in? I keep hearing it's in trouble, but car counts at recent races have been very strong.
A: Steve, it's true there have been a lot of cars showing up at the last few Busch events. But the core of the series is in trouble, mostly because of sponsorship troubles. It costs nearly as much to run a competitive Busch team these days as a Nextel Cup Series operation and finding that kind of money, with the limited exposure the series receives, is a very tough challenge. The Craftsman Truck Series is really in better shape the Busch Series because the manufacturers pump more money into the circuit. NASCAR has to address the Busch Series issue in some fashion because despite what the PR machine will tell you the series is dying on the vine.
Q: Any chance of the ASA coming to its senses and changing the horrible paint scheme design on the cars?
A: I have never received more e-mail on any subject, including the NASCAR "Chase for the Championship" point system, than about ASA's new design. The bad news is that not only will the National Tour keep this look, the new ASA Late Model Series will also use it. I can understand trying something new and searching for a way to stand out from the competition, but aside from throwing away tradition, putting the numbers on the rear quarter panels instead of the doors is just plain ugly. And if a sponsor thinks they're going to get more exposure because their logo is on the door, forget about it. You couldn't make out any car, logo, number or driver at the season opening race.
Q: Who will drive the Newman/Haas entry at Indianapolis and will Paul Newman, a staunch Champ Car supporter and vocal IRL hater, be at the race?
A: Bruno Junqueira will most likely pilot the NH entry at Indy. In fact, he's scheduled to test for the team this week. Despite his anti-IRL stance, I think team owner Newman will indeed be at Indianapolis this year if his work schedule allows. Junqueira would have an excelent chance to win this year's race and I'm sure Newman would want to share in the celebration, as wellas crow about a Champ Car regular knocking off the IRL's best.
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