Moving races not in works


Bruton Smith would like nothing more than for his Las Vegas Motor Speedway to be the site of a second NASCAR Sprint Cup race each year.

But the billionaire founder and owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. made it clear Friday that he's not willing to move a race from one of his other tracks to make that happen.

Smith, whose SMI owns seven speedways that host 12 of NASCAR's 36 Cup points races, acknowledged he has negotiated with the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority to pay up to $10 million to his company for a second annual race.

He insisted, however, he would not move a race from one of his other tracks, including either of the two at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which he purchased last year.

"At this point, I have not considered it," Smith said of stripping New Hampshire of a race. "There are other places out there that maybe a date could come from. Who knows, a date may fall on us one day. That would be a nice surprise."

He suggested NASCAR should award a new event to Las Vegas, which has sold out Sunday's UAW-Dodge 400 for the seventh consecutive year. A crowd of about 145,000 is expected.

"I think we've earned a second race," Smith said. "Maybe (NASCAR) will feel sorry for us one day and give us another date. You may consider it wishful thinking on my part."

Meanwhile, Smith, whose North Carolina-based Sonic Automotive owns new-car dealerships in Southern Nevada, confirmed he has offered to switch the October race at his Atlanta Motor Speedway with the Labor Day race in Fontana, Calif., at Auto Club Raceway, which International Speedway Corp. owns.

Neither event has been able to sell out.

"Everybody will love it. It's the thing to do, and the people I have talked with within the sport -- within NASCAR -- they all agree that is the thing to do," Smith said.

A NASCAR spokesman said officials had no comment on possible scheduling changes for 2009.

CARPENTIER QUALIFIES -- Las Vegas resident Patrick Carpentier will compete in his first Sprint Cup race of the year Sunday after qualifying 12th in the No. 10 Gillette Evernham Motorsports Dodge.

He did not make it into either of this year's first two races, in Daytona, Fla., and Fontana.

"(After) the last three weeks, I'll finally be able to sleep tonight, so that's good," the open-wheel veteran and NASCAR rookie said.

It will be Carpentier's first Cup race in Southern Nevada since moving to Summerlin in 1999.

"This is great, fantastic," he said. "I had to buy so many tickets; now at least it's worth it. We're really happy."

NATIONWIDE -- Las Vegas native Kyle Busch, who won the pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race, was the fastest in Friday's final practice session for today's Sam's Town 300 Nationwide Series race, which will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Qualifying will start at 9:05 a.m.

Tony Stewart, who has driven his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victories in each of this year's first two races, was third best.

Busch was the fastest in Friday's second practice session after Bobby Labonte topped the first one.

Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards are among other Cup drivers entered in the race.

Contact reporter Jeff Wolf at jwolf@ reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0247.

 

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