Thursday, March 13, 2008

Humpy Proposes SMI/ISC Date Swap

Humpy Wheeler wants Speedway Motorsports, Inc., to swap dates with rival International Speedway Corporation, moving the Labor Day weekend race to Atlanta Motor Speedway, and shuffling Atlanta’s October date to Auto Club Raceway of Southern California.

Wheeler says the swap would benefit both venues.

“Obviously, NASCAR doesn’t want rainouts, they don’t want bad dates,” he said. “October…is a little bit better weather for (Auto Club Speedway). What we really want to do is try to run Atlanta at night. Everything changes at night. We could run it on Sunday night or Saturday night. It would make all the difference in the world."

In addition, Wheeler said he would like to move Atlanta’s other race to early June, from its current slot in mid-March.

“We would rather run that March date in early June, when we could run it at night,” he said. “That’s our ultimate wish list.” Wheeler said the Atlanta/California swap “looks more encouraging every day,” but admitted that the deal will be complicated to bring to fruition. In his words, “a lot of politics have to happen before that comes about. We continue to talk to ISC and NASCAR about this.”

Both Atlanta and California have struggled to sell seats in recent seasons, with weather a frequent issue. Auto Club Speedway battled inclement weather last month, with its Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races both postponed to Monday by incessant rain. Last weekend’s “Kobalt Tools 500” at Atlanta ran under dry skies, but was preceded by two days of rain, snow and cold temperatures. Both tracks had plenty of empty seats throughout the weekend, with crowds falling far short of NASCAR’s official estimates.

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