Five Tracks That Need a Cut
By Peter Carcia (??.??.2012)
The opinions of this article are solely those of the writer
So back in 2010 NASCAR finally realized that what was needed to help boost popularity was to mix things up in the annual schedule. So after six years of pretty much the same races at the same times, the 2011 NASCAR season saw some pretty significant changes. Both Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway lost one of their races in the schedule, bringing them down to their premier events, the Auto Club 500 and the Labour Day Classic. Many races had changed the order of timing. Some of the biggest changes included Chicagoland's annual event got moved from TNT's summer series to boot out New Hampshire and become the first race of the Chase for the Cup. Also, Phoenix Raceway now had the second race of the year along with the prenultimate race that it's held in the Chase for years, making a mirror image so to speak.
Of course with some track getting cuts, some tracks gained races. Kansas got the spring race Atlanta lost, which we'll get to in a little bit, but we also saw the first new track on the circuit since 2001, as Kentucky Speedway became the 23rd track to be on the Sprint Cup Circuit. Now sure, people probably thought to themselves, "oh great, another mile and a half track, just what we need." You're probably right, I'd agree there should probably a better variety of racetracks.
But for the people of the bluegrass state, this seemed different. The racetrack was more than sold out to an estimated 120,000 people in a track that had just built up seats to hold 102,000. To many NASCAR fans, we were able to see the heydays of the 1990s again: a packed house, a riled up crowd, a great race with just the right amount of wrecks and green flag runs. In fact, the only thing keeping it from seeming like a retro race was the Japanese car brand Toyota winning the race with Kyle Busch.
So how was the overhaul? In 2011, the overall attendance would have gone up if it weren't for Atlanta's race getting rained out, the first time that happened since comparing 2006 and 2007 (which by the way had one million more people in the picture). Those changes were basically the catalyst for those upswings, with Phoenix gaining 15,000, Chicagoland gaining 5,500 (again not shown because of rain delays), and Auto Club speedway got its highest following since 2006. So we thought about it in the office, who should be next to be cut, and who should replace them? There's quite a few tracks that are in a short fall in attendance, so take some notes France family, if most fans had their way, the tracks losing races would have enough to make a graduating class.