Vegas wants ‘The Winston’

May 07, 2002 4:47 AM
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The next race on the Winston Cup schedule is NASCAR’s version of the All-star game called "The Winston," which is scheduled for Saturday, May 18th at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C.

This could be the last time we see the event at LMS because NASCAR is considering moving the race to another city. The talks are already underway and the big winner in the scenario could be Las Vegas.

Las Vegas has repeatedly been mentioned as a location for the annual event along with Kansas City, Texas, and Chicago, all tracks that have only one race per season. NASCAR is not likely to give another Winston Cup points race date to the deserving tracks like Las Vegas and Texas, both of which have been ratings winners on television, but they may have the upper hand in getting "The Winston."

Another NASCAR race weekend in Las Vegas would be welcomed by all in the state of Nevada with open arms, but the drivers aren’t so excited about it. It’s not that they don’t like Las Vegas or the track, they love both. It’s about the proximity. Most of the teams are based out of North Carolina and the majority of the drivers live around that area.

The busy schedules of the drivers are well documented and the month of May always give the drivers some relaxation time. They get Mother’s Day weekend off, one of two weekends on the season, and then prepare for "The Winston" and the Coca Cola 600 the following weekend. That’s a three-week stretch in one city where the entire team doesn’t have to travel.

But as we’ve seen in recent years, NASCAR is a business that much of the time is self serving and contradictory. After all, NASCAR owns and operates the International Speedway Corporation. ISC consists of almost every track on the circuit other than the Speedway Motorsports Incorporated which owns Las Vegas, Texas, Atlanta, Sears Point, and Charlotte.

Chicago and Kansas City are huge favorites to be the new home of "The Winston" on the Vegas line. Things would surely be different if ISC had purchased Vegas rather than SMI.

BUSCH SERIES

The Busch Series is the featured event this weekend in New Hampshire. Jeff Burton (7-5) and Stacy Compton (14-1) are the only Winston Cup regulars to be entered. Burton has been the most successful driver in track history with four Winston Cup wins and a Busch Series victory in 1992. The Palms Casino and Station Casinos properties are the only Sports Books in Las Vegas that offer wagering on the Busch Series.

FORMULA 1

Formula 1 travels to Austria this weekend where points leader Michael Schumacher (EV) has some value. Normally, Schumacher is —140 to —160, but is now at a track where Ferrari hasn’t won in two seasons. The McLaren Mercedes has won the last two races in Austria, including last year by David Coulthard (3-1).

ON THE OUTS

NASCAR driver changes are already in the works. Steve Park looks to be the first to go. DEI Enterprises has thrown in the towel for 2002. Both Park and Michael Waltrip are getting the cold shoulder and are not likely to be back next season.

Elliott Sadler and Kenny Wallace are the likely replacements. Taking over for Sadler’s Wood Brothers car looks to be Jason Keller. Buckshot Jones’ phone still has not rung.

BUSCH NEW HAMPSHIRE

1) #9

Jeff Burton

7-5

2) #57

Jason Keller

4-1

3) #60

Greg Biffle

5-1

4) #48

Kenny Wallace

12-1

5) #24 Jack Sprague 10-1