Las Vegas' Cup might runneth over


A news conference in Texas rarely impacts Southern Nevada, but that could change today.

Bruton Smith is expected to announce at Texas Motor Speedway that he has purchased New Hampshire International Speedway, which hosts two Nextel Cup events.

If that happens, it sets the stage for Las Vegas Motor Speedway to get a second annual Cup race.

Smith is the major stockholder of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the Texas and Las Vegas tracks, along with four others. The 80-year-old billionaire long has sought a second date for Las Vegas, a facility he bought in 1999 and has transformed into the finest on the NASCAR circuit.

NASCAR has said in recent years that it would not add new events to its Cup schedule unless new venues were built in the New York City area or in the Pacific Northwest. But it has said companies owning more than one track could shift a race from one site to another.

Smith's intent has been to buy a track so he could add a fall race at Las Vegas. The speedway probably will have a date that's one of the Cup series' last 10 Chase for the Championship races.

New Hampshire is the first stop in the Chase.

The New Hampshire facility is owned by Bob Bahre, who joined with Smith in 1996 to buy North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, after which Smith moved one of its races to his Texas facility and Bahre took the other to Loudon, N.H., to give his track a second date.

Before we know details of the big announcement, we can speculate.

If Smith purchases the track, which I'm told is in dire need of improvement for traffic access and in the infield area, what might he do?

Here's my perfect scenario:

Smith buys the New Hampshire track, moves one race to Las Vegas and sells the other to Jerry Carroll, chairman of Kentucky Speedway who is suing NASCAR for not awarding his facility a Cup race.

Because NASCAR never is going to get a racetrack built around New York, Smith can sell New Hampshire to International Speedway Corp., whose stock is controlled by the France family that owns NASCAR. NASCAR then can create a new event for New Hampshire.

Everyone wins.

The scenario that would best serve NASCAR, and its teams and sponsors, is to make a new Las Vegas race the season finale. That could kick off a weeklong celebration leading to the Cup series banquet at Mandalay Bay Events Center or MGM Grand Garden.

• FULLER RUNS FOR TITLE -- Las Vegas resident Rod Fuller could deliver Southern Nevada its first NHRA championship if he holds onto the Top Fuel points lead in the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series season finale this weekend in Pomona, Calif. He qualified 15th on Thursday.

Fuller would have clinched the championship last Sunday during the event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's dragstrip under NHRA's old points system. But the new Countdown for the Championship format forces him to advance to this Sunday's semifinal round if the other three drivers in the Countdown each win their first two rounds.

It might also make Fuller the first racer from Nevada to win an NHRA season title, but records cannot be found to validate that. Anyone know of a Nevadan who owns a national drag racing championship?

• RIDE WITH KURT -- Want to ride shotgun in a Cup car with Kurt Busch and help special children at the same time?

You can Tuesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch's "Ride with Kurt for the Kids" raised $40,000 for his foundation and the Victory Junction Gang Camp for special-needs children in Randleman, N.C.

The 2-7 p.m. program offers packages ranging from $200 to $2,000 and is limited to 30 people because it includes hot laps around the 1.5-mile speedway oval with Busch at the wheel of a Richard Petty Driving Experience race car.

Busch already has donated $1 million for construction of the Kurt Busch Superdome, a 28,000-square-foot indoor sports facility at the camp.

Go to KurtBusch.com or call (704) 799-2428 to be part of this great night.

I might even take some laps with Kurt, and that alone would be worth paying $2,000 just to see if my skin color matches the gray in my beard when I get out of the car.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at 383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com.

 

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