Sources: Smith 'appropriate choice' to replace Wheeler

Updated: May 21, 2008, 7:29 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- Marcus Smith, the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Speedway Motorsports Inc., is the leading candidate to be voted to replace Lowe's Motor Speedway president and general manager H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler next week.

Several sources close to the situation said the son of SMI owner Bruton Smith is the "appropriate choice," to replace Wheeler.

"It looks like the obvious," Bruton Smith said. "But it's up to the directors to decide that."

Marcus, attending Wednesday's news conference to announce Wheeler's retirement, was non-committal.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "I love my job. I love coming to the speedway every day. I love racing and race fans. Everybody's job that comes to work here is to make sure fans have the best time possible and want to come back at the end of the day."

There also has been speculation that Wheeler's job could be split among two people. Bruton Smith reiterated that the board would have to make that decision.

An SMI board meeting is scheduled for next week.

"The board will make a decision next week on who's going to run the ship going forward, and I'm sure they'll make a good decision," said Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, who is not interested in replacing the man he learned the business under.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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