Race Weekend Central

Potts’s Shots: Another New Track… but No Cup Date?

Carroll Hicks writes…

Have you heard anything about a new NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack being built south of Branson, Mo. I find this hard to believe, but land is being cleared for a 0.75-mile track that the builder says is set for NASCAR races in 2012?

Well, I’ve been able to dig up the information that Russell Cook, a developer from nearby Hollister, Mo., says he has investors in place to spend $150 million building the racetrack on 800 acres he owns near the Branson airport. As the Springfield News-Leader reports, officials in Taney County are on board with the plan.

Cook says he wants to build a track that could accommodate 80,000 to 100,000 fans. No mention about the size, but I think a 0.75-mile oval is just about right.

He was hoping to break ground this spring and host the track’s first race in 2012. The goal, naturally, would be for the track to land a Sprint Cup race. In the meantime, Cook would settle for Nationwide and other NASCAR series events.

I’ll make the same prediction I did with Kentucky Speedway. It could get a Cup race when either ISC or SMI owns it and then only if they move a race from somewhere else. Personally, I’d like to see just about any track from one of the 1.5-milers moved to one this size.

Maybe I’ve plowed over this ground before, but back in 1985, when Warner Hodgdon’s empire went belly up and NASCAR pulled a top-line race out of the Nashville Fairgrounds track, Indianapolis Raceway Park entered into discussions with NASCAR about getting that race. There was even talk of expanding the IRP oval to a mile and I saw the plans.

The Busch race at IRP was only three years old at that time and it was already a success. But Bob Daniels, the General Manager, was told finally by Bill France Jr. that they just weren’t going to take on any more “short” tracks for the Cup Series.

Fast forward to 2011; now, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway taking over the Nationwide race, there won’t even be a Truck race at what is now Lucas Oil Raceway. That’s been announced by officials there. I suspect that NHRA and LOR told NASCAR to stick their trucks where they sun don’t shine if they can’t have the Nationwide race, too.

I also have a feeling that they don’t feel it’s cost-effective to erect all those temporary bleachers, raising the capacity to over 30,000, for just one race.

All this brings back memories of my 15 years there and Mike Neff of Frontstretch came up with a statement that will make for good commentary in this space next week.

Sal Baker says…

I haven’t heard anything about Jon Wood since he left the Truck Series. What’s with him and how is he doing?

Afraid not, Sal. The last information I have on him was that his plans for 2010 were “undecided with options open” should sponsorship or driving opportunities become available.

He and a cousin, Keven Wood, shared duties in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Air Force Ford truck in 2008. The team shut down because of a lack of sponsorship. I’ll keep checking. Jon may be doing some driving at one of the short tracks in his area.

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