Friday, May 14, 2004

NASCAR tracks to lose Nextel Cup races



The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. - North Carolina Speedway will lose its only remaining race and Darlington Raceway will have just one as part of a realignment plan for 2005, a NASCAR source said Thursday.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway would each get an additional race.

An announcement by NASCAR chairman Brian France was scheduled for today at Richmond International Raceway, the source said.

NASCAR officials declined to discuss specifics of France's announcement, saying only that the series has decided not to return to the track in Rockingham, N.C.

The changes mean North Carolina Speedway will have lost both of its Cup weekends in the span of a year. The track's other date was given to California Speedway.

Darlington, the original NASCAR superspeedway in South Carolina and host of the prestigious Southern 500, would be left with only one race for the first time since 1960. The remaining Darlington event will be run on Mother's Day weekend in a departure from NASCAR tradition; the series always has been idle on Easter Sunday and Mother's Day.

Under the realigned schedule, Texas will gain a race in November - during the 10-race dash for the championship. Phoenix would add a race in the spring, the source said.

Rockingham, a NASCAR track since 1965, and Darlington, in the series since 1950, routinely fail to sell out their races.

BUSCH SERIES: Kyle Busch and 13 others christened Richmond's new asphalt surface with the fastest speeds in the history of series qualifying there. Busch turned the fastest lap at 129.348 mph and earned his third pole of the Busch season.

INDY 500: Helio Castroneves topped the day's speed chart at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a lap of 221.156 mph. Today is the last full day of practice. Qualifying begins Saturday. The race is May 30.




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