Sunday, June 29, 2008
Track prez: Races at Las Vegas, New Hampshire under consideration
By Terry Blount
LOUDON, N.H. -- Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he is negotiating a five-race deal for Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks that would include moving the IndyCar Series season finale to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"They would like to end the season in Las Vegas to go with their [season-ending] banquet while everyone was still in town," Gossage said. "It could be a really big thing for IndyCar racing to wrap up their season that way."
New Hampshire Motor Speedway would be part of the five-race package, along with Texas, Kentucky Speedway and Infineon Raceway -- three tracks that already host IndyCar events.
Gossage and SMI chairman Bruton Smith were in New Hampshire on Sunday to attend the first NASCAR weekend at NHMS since SMI purchased the facility last November.
The IndyCar Series has ended its season at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., since 2005.
John Griffin, IRL vice president of public relations, said moving the finale to Las Vegas is a realistic possibility.
"We're working on it," Griffin said. "Right now we have to come up with a plan for the Australia race that still allows us to end the year with the championship points event in the U.S.
"But it's been great to work with Eddie as the point man on this with the way things have developed the last few weeks. We're anxious to work out a deal, but we're not sure we can get New Hampshire on the schedule for 2009."
The New Hampshire IndyCar weekend probably would fall between late July and mid-August, placing it between NASCAR races in late June and mid-September, the busiest part of the IndyCar schedule.
The Australia street race at Surfer's Paradise, which is scheduled for Oct. 26 this year, will run as an exhibition event this season. Australia may need to move its date to earlier in the year to count as a championship event.
IRL officials are trying to rework the 2009 schedule to incorporate some Champ Car events that were cancelled this year when the IRL and Champ Car merged.
The IRL raced at the one-mile New Hampshire oval and 1½-mile Las Vegas oval with limited success in the years after the open-wheel series split in 1996.
"You would think [the IRL] would appreciate what we're doing in Texas, Infineon and Kentucky and want to add two major speedways to that," Gossage said. "The league is not served in the Northeast and not served well out West. It's two good markets to deliver to them."
Gossage said the clock is ticking on getting a deal done for next season.
"It has to happen pretty soon," Gossage said. "Vegas [NASCAR] tickets already are on sale for 2009. I'm going on the Kyle Petty Charity ride for about 10 days in July [starting July 12] and I told them I would like to have it done before I leave."
Gossage said his role is to negotiate the best deal possible before presenting it to each track's general manager for consideration.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The league is not served in the Northeast and not served well out West. It's two good markets to deliver to them.
-- TMS' Eddie Gossage, on
a possible five-race IRL deal