Monday, June 30, 2008

Smith: NHMS Cup Dates Are Safe

Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith said yesterday that New Hampshire Motor Speedway's two NASCAR Sprint Cup dates are not in danger of being moved to either Las Vegas or Kentucky.

SMI purchased the one-mile Granite State oval for a reported $340 million earlier this year, triggering a torrent of speculation that one of the track’s Cup dates might be moved to another SMI property. There were empty seats at the Loudon, New Hampshire oval for the first time in its Sprint Cup history Sunday, prompting another round of questions about the track’s future. But when asked about that possibility of moving a race out of the Granite State, Smith responded flatly, "No. We'll try to accomplish that another way. We're working on things."

Sources tell Sirius Speedway that Smith still hopes to purchase Pocono Raceway from the Matiolli family, despite recent assertions by Pocono owner Dr. Joseph Mattioli that his track is not for sale, and has been entrusted to his grandchildren to prevent its sale for decades to come.

A source close to the situation said Smith believes Pocono can still be bought for the right price, and is determined to strike a deal to bring the track under the SMI unbrella. He would then shutter the aging Pennsylvania speedway and move its two NASCAR dates to Kentucky and Las Vegas.

Smith also said he has cooled on the idea of reworking the NHMS track surface from its relatively flat, 12-degree banked configuration to something along the lines of the recently remodeled Las Vegas track. Smith admitted that he has discussed that possibility, as well as building a new racetrack elsewhere on the NHMS grounds. But a completive slate of races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified, Camping World East and Nationwide Series’ has apparenrly convinced him that no immediate changes are needed.

"I was pleasantly pleased with the shows we had, and how racy it was," said Smith Sunday. "Prior to that, I was determined on making some changes. Right now, we're going to look at some things."

Smith said he may now be content to rework spectator areas of the speedway and add additional seats.

Newman On Penske: Ryan Newman stated his case again this weekend, saying that the performance of his Penske Racing Dodges must improve quickly if the team expects him to sign a new, multi-year contract.

“The Daytona (500) win was huge for us, but it's in the past,” he said. “Our engine program is at an all-time low, We don't have the horsepower other teams have…and we don't have the reliability to go along with it. People aren't doing their job. That's the bottom line. They're just not getting the job done."

Newman continues to be linked to the soon-to-be-vacated #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and is being mentioned as a possible teammate to Tony Stewart, if Stewart jumps to Haas CNC Racing next season.

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