If the rumblings are any indication, the 2011 schedule is going to look considerably different than the schedule that's remained largely intact over the last few years in the Sprint Cup Series.
That request from SMI came a day after International Speedway Corp. and Kansas Speedway officially filed their request for a second date. (As part of a provision with the state of Kansas, as soon as a casino on Speedway grounds was approved for construction, the Speedway could officially request a second Cup date.)
Those race dates aren't going to come out of thin air — because the Sprint Cup season is already way too long — so trades are going to have to be made.
Auto Club Speedway in California is everyone's favorite attendance whipping track, so it's a logical candidate to lose a date. It is an ISC track, so that answers Kansas' second race question, but other tracks would have to be shuffled around because there's no logical way that Kansas could host a February date.
So if SMI wants to have a second date, they'll have to find a second track in their conglomerate to take away a race date from. Jay Busbee will probably drive to my house and smack me with a hammer for saying this, but if SMI gets both Kentucky and a second Vegas date on the schedule, Atlanta is going to be the other track that loses a date.
Like California, New Hampshire and Atlanta would lose their first race dates, as the late-in-the-season ones are more lucrative. But Atlanta's race is in March and New Hampshire's is in June. Given that Vegas currently has the third race on the schedule, it can't have the March date, and a Cup race in Kentucky wouldn't be a good idea either. Therefore, those switches would require some schedule jockeying as well.
Even if NASCAR makes changes to the Chase, those changes probably won't be to the Chase's schedule. Nine of the 10 tracks are entrenched as hosts for Chase races, and given the relationship between NASCAR and ISC, they're not going to take away Auto Club's spring date and its Chase date. So what's the schedule going to look like? Here's a pretty good guess:
3/6 Las Vegas
5/22 All Star Race
6/25 Las Vegas
8/7 Watkins Glen
9/18 New Hampshire
10/9 Auto Club
In this scenario, Phoenix moves to the second race of the season and Texas moves to the fourth. In Phoenix, weather shouldn't be an issue while Dallas' average high on March 13 is 68, which is perfect weather for a race. Having a race in Kansas (and Kentucky, for that matter) is a little dicey in April, as that's the middle of the severe weather season. Just last year, the Camping World Truck Series race was postponed because of a tornado warning just a few miles from the track.
What would you like to see changed on the 2011 schedule? I know that Pocono will probably be the first thing to come to your minds, but there's no indication that NASCAR will be abandoning one of the Pocono dates any time soon, so it's not a realistic track to cut. Drop us a line in the comments. Just remember, perfect-world scenarios only work in a perfect world.
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway