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It's Michigan Sunday, and the traffic is.....

  Digging in: Michigan's Roger Curtis (R), with Ryan Newman. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)  

   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   No word yet on NASCAR's 2011 tour schedule. But that new second Cup weekend proposed for Kansas City, with the opening of that new casino just outside the first turn, has some stock car racing promoters wondering – perhaps sweating out -- just where that Cup date will come from.
   With the NASCAR Cup tour already working 38 weeks a season, no one expects CEO Brian France to add a 39th week for Kansas. Rather that that new race will have to come at the expense of one of the France family's current International Speedway Corp. (ISC) tracks.
   But Bruton Smith, who runs rival Speedway Motorsports (SMI), may be backing away from pushing for a Cup weekend in 2011 at his Kentucky Speedway, which hosted Saturday night's Nationwide 300 (to a less than 72,000-capacity crowd). Smith, to move a Cup date to Kentucky, would also likely have to cut a Cup weekend from one of his current tracks.
    ISC runs 19 Sprint Cup events at its 12 tracks: Daytona, California, Martinsville, Phoenix, Talladega, Richmond, Darlington, Michigan, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen, Kansas and Homestead-Miami.
    SMI runs 12 Cup races at its seven tracks.
    The ISC track losing a week for that second Kansas race?
   Michigan president Roger Curtis insists that it won't be his, that this track will continue to host two Cup events.
   And Curtis can point to some major improvements at this 1969-built facility.
   Curtis, who took the reins here in 2006, has just cut the ribbon on a huge new array of pit road suites and infield-to-grandstand pedestrian tunnel, part of some $55 million in capital improvement projects, including a new scoreboard, new sound system, better infield drainage, and 23,000 more grandstand seats. (Here's Curtis talking about his 'infield project:  http://bit.ly/c17XTV  ) And Curtis says NASCAR officials want him next to start rebuilding the garage area itself, which really hasn't been greatly improved in years.
   Curtis, who has been high-profile here this weekend, checking out the action and reaction, says this track generates about $400 million annually into the area economy (and that's without an Indy-car weekend, which was once a staple here).
   So what about traffic control?
   This track once held the dubious record of worst traffic control in NASCAR.
   -- Part of that is because the track, which seats 137,243, sits on US 12, a winding two-lane country road from Detroit west. The closest Interstate is I-94 10 miles north. And the US 12 shoulder asphalt isn't wide enough to allow four lanes of traffic on race weekends; some other NASCAR tracks have done the politicking to get their access highway shoulders widened that much, greatly improving traffic flow. 
   -- And part of that was – was – because state highway officials for years limited special traffic control lanes to only a one-mile stretch around the track. Curtis credits the new M.DOT boss Kurt Steudle for allowing expansion of that traffic control sector two years ago, and he says that's allowed the track to empty traffic in about 90 minutes.
   How well traffic works after Sunday's Michigan 400 remains to be seen.
   But Curtis says his customers aren't shy about letting him know what they're thinking.

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Aric Almirola (51) winning Saturday's Truck Series 200 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


I attended my first race at MIS today. I had heard about the traffic problems that had accompanied MIS Nascar weekends in the past but was pleasantly surprised as to how easy it was to get to the track and to depart once the race was over. Nice job to MIS management and the Michigan DOT.

Kansas deserves a second race

Kansas deserves a second race about as much as Michigan. Neither should have one. Most races at both are yawners, much like yesterday's. Unless the track produces great racing, then one race is a plenty for that venue. Going there only once would make that event seem more special instead of most fans saying "ugh". Building a casino should not garner another date at Kansas. If that's the case then why does Vegas only have one date? NASCAR wants innovative ideas, but they can't get past their own greed and ignorance to see that the racing at a lot of their tracks sucks. The answer: reduce the number of races at those tracks and spread the wealth to other tracks that currently don't have Cup races. Even if the racing is not any better, at least it would be different.

I'll second Anonymous from last Sunday

My first race @MIS too, and no traffic issues...although that could be due to lower attendance too

Cup in Kentucky

Mr Mike Mulhern,

You wrote of Kentucky Speedway possibly not receiving a 2011 CUP DATE like it was some sort of breaking news, and then you proceeded to go with the fact that there were less than 73,000 tickets sold for the race as a OOOOOOOOHhhhhhhh they can't even Sellout anymore for a Nationwide Series race. Well first, Kentucky Speedway has been the ONLY TRACK to ever sell STANDING ROOM ONLY tickets for the Junior Series of RACING!!!
2nd of all QUITE FRANKLY race fans In KENTUCKY and OHIO are Sick and Tired of being PUSHED and SHOVED BY NASCAR !!! We simply aren't going to support a Family owned sport that REFUSES TO PAY ATTENTION to our DESIRE for racing. So NASCAR, and BRIAN FRANCE CAN KISS OUR BULEGRASSES. We simply wanted to see some of MAJOR LEAGUE'S RACING here, but the KISSING UP DAYS ARE OVER. Hey i even got rid of my satellite last month. I'll go back to Fishing, Boating and other things that don't cost me a SECOND MORTGAGE to go see or do!

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