LVMS owner submits schedule change request

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has submitted a scheduling request to NASCAR for at least one change to its part of the 2011 Sprint Cup season, NASCAR chairman Brian France said Friday.

France’s comment came one day after International Speedway Corp. said it had submitted a schedule proposal for a second Cup race for its Kansas Speedway.

“They’ve followed the policy that we have laid out on realignment,” France said in Daytona Beach, Fla. “We’ll have to see how it all fits into the greater schedule as we go in the next couple weeks.”

SMI officials had no comment.

SMI owns seven tracks with 12 of the 36 points-paying races in the Cup series; ISC owns 12 tracks with 19 Cup races.

NASCAR is expected to release its schedule for next year this summer.

Since Bruton Smith, founder and chairman of SMI, bought Kentucky Speedway in 2008, he has said his top priority was to get a first Cup race for the facility between Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky. Before that acquisition, Smith had been vocal about getting a second annual Cup date for the Las Vegas facility he purchased in late 1998.

In the past month, Smith has heightened negotiations with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to financially support a second annual Las Vegas Cup race. The speedway has hosted one early in the season since 1998.

It has been speculated that Smith would consider moving a Cup race from SMI tracks in Loudon, N.H., or Hampton, Ga. Each of those tracks have two annual Cup races.

■ NATIONWIDE — At Daytona Beach, Fla., the No. 3 went back to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway, where Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove a car that honored his late father to his first NASCAR win in more than three years.

Earnhardt, winless in any NASCAR points race since a Sprint Cup victory at Michigan in 2007, took the lead on pit road under caution with 26 laps to go Friday in the Subway Jalapeno 250. Running a No. 3 Chevrolet with a Wrangler paint scheme to honor his father’s induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Earnhardt brought his fans to their feet for the final sprint to the checkered flag.

Paul Menard’s wreck with four laps to go put the outcome in jeopardy, and Earnhardt, the leader, decided not to pit under the caution. On old tires, he had to hold off Joey Logano and a slew of Cup regulars for his first Nationwide victory since Michigan in 2006.

Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt’s cousin and crew chief, was overcome with emotion as Earnhardt crossed the finish line.

“We lost everything here,” Eury said softly. “To come back with that number and do this, it means everything.”

Dale Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap accident in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Logano finished second, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. third and Brad Keselowski fourth. Kevin Harvick, the driver who replaced Earnhardt following his death, was fifth, defending race winner Clint Bowyer sixth and Kyle Busch seventh.

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