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NASCAR's 2011 Sprint Cup tour schedule looks like......

 Chicagoland Speedway boss Craig Rust (R) may need some good advice from Blackhawks' tough guy Duncan Keith (L) on how to make NASCAR's championship playoff opener work in mid-September Chicago in 2011. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   The dominoes have started falling in NASCAR's 2011 season tour shakeup.
   And you just try to mix and match up all these Cup weekends on next year's calendar, while keeping track of TV contracts and keeping enough calendar distance between tracks hosting two events over the summer.
   The full Sprint Cup tour schedule is expected out in a week or so. But some points have already been confirmed.
   First, the Daytona 500 will be Feb. 20th.
   Second, Indianapolis' Brickyard 400 will be July 24th.
    Monday Chicagoland Speedway boss Craig Rust announced his 1-1/2-mile track, on Classic Route 66 in Joliet, Ill., will host the lead-off event in next season's 10-race Sprint Cup championship chase on Sunday Sept. 18.
   New Hampshire Motor Speedway, an hour north of Boston, has held that event up till now; it's fall tour date will fall a week later now, as the second race of the chase.
   Atlanta Motor Speedway last week announced it would be losing its spring Cup tour date in 2011, and it will have only the Labor Day weekend 500.
   That Atlanta Cup date is expected to go to Kentucky Speedway, in an announcement set for the Cincinnati market track Tuesday. The new Kentucky Cup stop is expected to be Saturday night July 9th; that's been the Chicagoland tour date.
   Also expected to be announced Tuesday in Kansas City is that Kansas Speedway will be getting a second Sprint Cup weekend next season. That tour stop is expected to come at the expense of Southern California's Auto Club Speedway, in the Los Angeles market, which is expected to lose its current October championship playoff weekend in the swap...though dropping LA has not yet been confirmed.
   The current first California race date of Feb. 27th is expected to go to Phoenix, moved from its current mid-April date.
   Where that might leave the lone remaining California 500 race is unclear: March 13th, filling in the Atlanta hole? April 10th, simply swapping with Phoenix? Or moving back to May 1st, where that LA-area track has had its most success...though that would push the Richmond weekend date somewhere else.
   The rainy season in Southern California runs from November through April.
   The precise date of the new Kansas Cup race is also unclear.
   One report has pegged it for Sunday June 5th; that is currently the weekend that Pocono Raceway hosts one of its two Cup races. Pocono is not expected to lose either of its two weekends, so that June stop will likely move to the following week, to the date currently held by Michigan International Speedway. However how NASCAR might plan to fit Kansas, Pocono, Michigan, Sonoma and New Hampshire into the four-Sunday June is not clear.
   New Hampshire has just announced an Indy-car race for July 30th next year, and it would not be likely to host a Cup event within the 30 days prior.
   Sonoma would like to run its annual June Cup event on June 26th next year, to avoid Father's Day, June 19th.
   The July 17th weekend, just before the Indianapolis Brickyard 400, is currently open, as an off-weekend. But even if Michigan's traditional second Cup weekend in mid-August were moved to the August 28th off-weekend, it is not certain that Michigan officials would like to try to promote their first Cup weekend on the July 17th date, just five weeks earlier.
   There would be a similar dilemma with Pocono, which would be expected to host its second Cup race July 31st.

    Yet another version of what NASCAR 2011 might look like:
   (still with question marks, for NASCAR still to answer)

    Feb. 20      Daytona 500
    Feb. 27      Phoenix (replacing California)
    March 6     Las Vegas
    March 13   ? (Off, perhaps, though Fox would prefer an event, for continuity)
    March 20   Bristol   
    March 27   California (though this is still the rainy season)
    April 3        Martinsville (NCAA Final Four weekend)
    April 10     Texas (Masters weekend; replacing Phoenix, which moves earlier; perhaps Sat. night April 9)
    April 17     Talladega
    April 24     Easter
    April 30     Richmond  (Saturday) (But this would be the most logical California 500 date)
    May 7        Darlington (Saturday, Mother's Day weekend)
    May 15      Dover
    May 21      Charlotte All-star (Saturday)
    May 29      Charlotte 600
    June 5        Kansas
    June 12      Pocono
    June 19      Michigan  (Father's Day)
    June 26      Sonoma
    July 2         Daytona (Saturday)
    July 9/10    Kentucky (instead of Chicago, which moves to September)
    July 17       New Hampshire (? -- because it's got an IRL event July 30th)
    July 24       Indianapolis
    July 31       Pocono
    August 7    Watkins Glen
    August 14  Michigan
    August 20  Bristol (Saturday)
    August 28  off weekend (Nationwide in Montreal?)
    Sept  4       Atlanta (Labor Day weekend)
    Sept 10     Richmond (Saturday)
    Sept 18     Chicago (replacing New Hampshire, which moves deeper)
    Sept 25     New Hampshire (replace Dover, which moves deeper)
    Oct 2         Dover (replaces Kansas, which moves deeper)
    Oct 9         Kansas (replaces California, to be dropped)
    Oct 15       Charlotte (Saturday)
    Oct 23       Martinsville
    Oct 30       Talladega
    Nov 6        Texas
    Nov 13      Phoenix
    Nov 20      Homestead-Miami

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Big changes to the schedule?

Big changes to the schedule? *Yawn*

I cannot understand NASCAR'S thinking on this....well actually I do. It just makes no sense to repeat the same mistake. So NASCAR opted for the No.3 market in the country to open the Chase. Chicago is a boring race, I'm not a fan of the track(bad experience); Kansas gets a second date, again a carbon copy of Chicago in terms of the racing "excitement". I do like that Kentucky is getting a race finally. Im glad Auto Club Speedway is down to one date. I know for possible financial gains, the sport wants to be in the big name markets. But so far those big markets have failed to give NASCAR the big ratings they so desire. If NASCAR would realize that Middle America and the South are what drives the sport. Of course there are fans all over, but Chicago, LA and New York don't give NASCAR its audience...its everywhere BUT those markets. NASCAR thinks bigger is better...nope. Fans are tuning out because NASCAR thinks they know what we want. Well if that was the case...there would be no Chase, No Auto Club Speedway, shorter races, Freedom of Speech, One Pocono race, Darlington would have the Labor Day race and Rockingham would be back on the schedule. None of the above will ever happen. So the sport will continue to lose fans at record speed. Blame it on the economy, blame it on the track owners, but the truth of the matter is NASCAR is to blame and nothing else.

Some very interesting

Some very interesting points.
and here are some others:
-- the February race at California Speedway has pulled an average TV rating of 6.1 over the past four years...and the July Chicago races has pulled an average TV rating of about 3.5. That means the California February race has been seen on average by more than 10M people, while the Chicago race, on average, by about 5M.
-- The Atlanta spring race has averaged a 5.6 TV rating over the past four years, which means a viewing audience averaging nearly 9M people -- and that's the number that Kentucky will have to to hit with its new race.

BTW, you do realize that your use of the word 'boring' could cost you a secret 50K fine, dont you (lol).

The February California race

The February California race is on FOX while the Chicago race is on a TNT, which requires people to have cable. Obviously having to pay for cable means fewer people have access to it and the ratings are lower. Last year's chase race in California despite being on ABC did not have many more viewers than the Chicago race, and back in 2005 when both races were on network tv, Chicago had more viewers than the 2nd California race. So you are comparing apples to oranges when you compare FOX ratings of California to TNT ratings of Chicago.

That said I do find many of the cookie cutter races like Chicago and Kansas to be boring, and I know when Chicago first opened, you couldn't just get tickets for the Cup race, you'd have to get a package of tickets for the nascar weekend, and the IRL weekend. If that is still how they are trying to sell tickets, it's no wonder people don't go to the track anymore.

Nascar's 2011 Schedule

I think that the powers that be are really changing things without listening to the fans at all. Why couldn't they ever look at the climate for dates at some of these racetracks? Atlanta would have never lost its second date, which I believe it deserved, if Nascar would have allowed Bruton to move the date later in the spring. The racing is bad right now, period. I don't think moving dates will help fill any seats. Maybe Kentucky will sell out for a couple of years then it will fall into the slump like many others. The ticket prices for a race are very high and with the economics it does not seem Brian France nor Bruton Smith acknowledge that problem at all. The racetrack that did not need to lose a race was Atlanta period. Nascar does not care about history, what an anniversary present, AMS celebrating its 50th and they do this to the track and its fans and the community. What really bothered a lot of AMS fans was the fact that Brian nor Bruton felt it was important enough to show their faces on our local media to explain their decision they left that up to Ed alone. What a tacky way to handle an announcement that was very important to us here in Georgia. And here I thought that Nascar and SMI were professional business's!! Not the way to handle that type of information at all. I see where they will be at all the happy announcements where the tracks are getting dates or things are moving around. Brian France and Bruton Smith are snake oil salesman, period. My daddy used to always say, Don't bite the hand that feeds ya! Heck, their biting like crazy to its long time fans pretty soon their will be no more.

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i agree with many of your

i agree with many of your points. there seems to be a major disconnect between daytona and the real world. and i do not agree with the way they didnt even bother to address the California Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway issues in person. That, to me, shows lack of respect for those two venues and those fans....which i fear will come back to haunt the powers that be.

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