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Brian France: Changes to 2015 Sprint Cup schedule likely, season finale to stay in Homestead, Dover status a concern

Jul 5, 2014, 6:16 PM EDT

(AP Photo/John Raoux) AP

In his annual mid-season state of the sport address Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR chairman/CEO Brian France hinted that there could be changes to the 2015 Sprint Cup season schedule.

Fox Sports announcer Chris Myers tweeted earlier in the day that rumor has it Darlington may be moved to the second date on the Cup schedule, replacing the first of two Phoenix races (which it’s assumed would then be moved to a later date).

Here’s France’s response to the possibility of schedule changes upcoming:

“Well, it’s a unique time because we’re starting with a new television partner (NBC) coming obviously next year,” France said. “There’s been some weather issues, as you well know – in the last several years at Bristol as an example – and then some other things that we would naturally look at as we go along in the schedule. And now that the Chase format is changed, there’s additional interest to move from one place to another.

“So there will be a robust discussion that will be for those reasons a more comprehensive look at what the best schedule will look like. I don’t have any of the details today.

“We’ll be releasing that (the 2015 schedule) in September, but it’s fair to say that there’s a robust discussion within the stakeholders to come up with the best schedule that we can for 2015 and beyond.”

France was asked specifically about Dover International Speedway’s future on the Sprint Cup schedule. The only track in Sprint Cup with an all-concrete racing surface, Dover has struggled with attendance in recent years — not to mention its parent company (Dover Motorsports Inc.) has sold all other tracks it once owned (including Gateway, Nashville and Memphis) — leading to rumors that one of its two annual races may be taken away.

“Well, we don’t have a timetable on that, and we don’t like to think of it that way,” France said. “We like to think that historically important events work themselves out over time, and some of that is on us, too.  I mean, we’ve got to constantly figure out how to make our racing tighter, better. I mean, that’s why I spent so much time today telling you that we are zeroed in on that.

“I think we don’t put a timeline on that.  We’re working with our track operators, the ones that have more challenges than others, and we’ll just have to work through it and try to get a good outcome.”

Also, while the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format would lend itself to moving the final race of the season — the four-car championship-deciding season finale — around to different tracks, ala the Super Bowl, France said Homestead Miami Speedway will likely remain the host of the final race for at least the next five seasons.

Bolstering that was the recent contract extension entered into by NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and Ford to sponsor the season-ending races in Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series through at least 2019. The current contract was due to expire at the end of this season.

“I know when you talk to the Ford people and you talk to people at ISC, at Homestead, they want to do whatever makes sense for that sponsorship,” France said. “While yes, it’s Ford obviously for the finale down at Homestead, they’re partners with us in every event.  There’s nothing to preclude a directional change down the road.

“But historically we’ve liked the fact that to do it in South Florida, the weather is great that time of year obviously, it’s a good market for us, and the track, and this is an important thing, is by any definition, the best mile-and-a-half track that the drivers believe that they have — that they can really race hard and compete hard, and that matters, too, right.  It’s a very important thing.

“When you factor all those things in, we’re going to be in Homestead for the foreseeable future.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

  1. manik56 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    So that means Phoenix has room for a February IndyCar date? As for NASCAR, the schedule needs massive reworking. Tracks with 2 races should be kept to a minimum and several new tracks need to be added. Too bad that will not happen because of ISCA & TRK.

  2. jam11163 - Jul 5, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    Keep both pocono races. Thier great.

  3. blockhead11 - Jul 5, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    I sure wish they’d add a dirt track..I know they could build a 1 miler and have the capacity of a Bristol..I know too that it would ALWAYS sell out…

  4. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 5, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Get rid of a Dover race.

  5. matt33fl - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    Aside from an additional off-weekend due to a 40-week timespan between next year’s Daytona 500 (Feb 22) and Championship Weekend (Nov 22) and Darlington getting moved up (AGAIN?!), I’d advise everyone not to get their hopes up regarding any schedule changes. When Brian France talks of “robust discussion” amongst shareholders, what that means is politicking between the owners of ISC and SMI in maintaining their respective slices of the revenue pie. Their main objective has been, and always will be, to do their best to maintain the status quo, regardless of what is best for the sport’s long-term health.

  6. rg72 - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    How many times could NASCAR possibly screw around with Darlington? The April date seemed to be fine this year. Getting moved to the second date is probably a death sentence. After all, this is the spot Rockingham occupied for years and couldn’t draw because of the weather that time of year. As it was the weather was often dicey for Darlington when they used to run there in mid-March.
    I would say odds are 50/50 that Dover becomes a one-date track next year.
    And while we’re talking about schedule, how about running the Coke Zero 400 during the day like it was for years, BEFORE the daily late afternoon/early evening rain showers that are common in Florida this time of year. I know at 2 or 3 times in the last decade, the race has ended well after midnight.
    Return the Daytona 500 to its normal date the Sunday before Presidents’ Day and get rid of All-Star weekend in May and you create more flexibility with the schedule. I think that event has run its course in Charlotte and besides we could do without an event on a 1.5 mile track, even if it’s an exhibition. How about try running it at IRP the Friday night before the Brickyard. Rotate it around, run it at tracks where NASCAR doesn’t normally run. In any case, there is no need to be at Bristol in mid-March or Martinsville even in late March.

    • matt33fl - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      You are exactly correct on Darlington. I was thinking the same thing…they’re getting the Rockingham treatment!

  7. matt33fl - Jul 6, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    Having said that, here’s what we’ll probably see rolled out in September:

    Feb 22—-Daytona
    Mar 01—-Darlington
    Mar 08—-Las Vegas
    Mar 15—-Phoenix
    Mar 21—-Texas*
    Mar 29—-Bristol
    Apr 12—–Martinsville
    Apr 19—–Fontana
    Apr 25—–Richmond*
    May 03—-Talladega
    May 09—-Kansas*
    May 16—-All-Star*
    May 24—-Charlotte
    May 31—-Dover
    Jun 07—–Pocono
    Jun 13—–Michigan
    Jun 21—–Sonoma
    Jul 04——Daytona*
    Jul 11——Kentucky*
    Jul 19——Loudon
    Aug 02—–Indianapolis
    Aug 09–—Pocono
    Aug 16—–Watkins Glen
    Aug 23—–Michigan
    Aug 29–—Bristol*
    Sep 06—–Atlanta*
    Sep 12—–Richmond*
    Sep 20—–Chicagoland
    Sep 27—–Dover
    Oct 04—–Loudon
    Oct 11—–Kansas
    Oct 18—–Talladega
    Oct 24—–Charlotte*
    Nov 01—–Martinsville
    Nov 08—–Texas
    Nov 15—–Phoenix
    Nov 22—–Homestead

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