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NYC area Cup race on agenda, France says

7/11/2004

JOLIET, Ill. -- Start spreading the news, NASCAR could be in
New York soon.

NASCAR chairman Brian France said Sunday he hopes to have an
announcement "in the next month or so'' for a track in the New
York City area. NASCAR has looked at several sites in the area,
with Staten Island discussed more than any other.

"There's a lot of momentum in that market,'' France said.
"What I know is they're a lot closer than they were just six
months ago. And I think you'll see some positive announcements
come, it would be my hope, in the next month or so.''

Though it still has many tracks where it was born, in the
Southeast, NASCAR has been on an aggressive expansion program over
the last decade to increase its fan base and popularity. The series
has added 10 races at new tracks in the Northeast, Midwest and West
since 1994, including two in the Los Angeles area and one outside
Chicago.

In addition to a track in New York, NASCAR has said it is
looking for a site in the Pacific Northwest -- most likely
Washington or Oregon. And France said Sunday that the Chicagoland
Speedway, site of Sunday's Tropicana 400, could get a second race.

"You can't leave your core fan base on your way to another one,
that wouldn't make any sense. There are plenty of races in the
Southeast, there are always going to be,'' France said. "We do
have to take the sport, from time to time, where we can impact a
bigger audience.''

A second race at Chicagoland Speedway, about 45 miles southwest
of downtown, would help increase NASCAR's visibility. NASCAR makes
only a handful of stops in the Midwest, with Indianapolis and
Michigan the closest tracks to Chicago.

The Tropicana 400 has sold out all four years, and France said
Chicago is NASCAR's eighth-largest television market.

"It certainly is a candidate for realignment because it's the
third-largest market in the country,'' France said of Chicago's
overall TV standing. "It has some constraints because of the
weather issues, what time of year you can come. But it would be a
candidate to be considered.''

With 36 races already on its schedule, though, NASCAR is at or
near its limit. To put a second race in Chicago -- or have races in
New York or the Pacific Northwest -- NASCAR would have to take a
race from somewhere else.

When the track in Fontana, Calif., got a second race last year,
NASCAR simply moved one from Darlington, S.C.

But before fans become outraged at the possibility of losing
their favorite race, France said NASCAR will be sensitive when the
time does come for realignment.

"We are not going to just unilaterally start pulling dates and
putting them here and there or anywhere we feel like it,'' France
said. "Tracks have historical dates, they're our business
partners. They can't be looking over their shoulders wondering when
we're going to pull a date, like some other motorsports divisions
have done in recent years. That's a failed policy and we won't do
that.''

Jarrett has places to be
Overcoming a flat tire that left him nearly two
laps down, Dale Jarrett finished strong to take third Sunday in the
Tropicana 400.

Then he was ready to make a quick exit and head to Minnesota to
watch a competition featuring another member of his family. His
daughter, Karsyn, is participating in a national AAU basketball
tournament.

"She had 24 points and 11 rebounds and eight steals today, so
that's pretty good,'' Jarrett said.

All about the Chase
NASCAR won't give any kind of award to the
driver who wins the points race during the "regular'' season.

NASCAR changed the way its Cup championship was decided this
year. Instead of a season-long points race, NASCAR will now reset
the field with 10 races to go. All drivers in the top 10 -- and any
others within 400 points of the leader -- will run for the
championship.

"What it's all about is winning it all,'' NASCAR chairman Brian
France said. "We don't want to recognize anything less than
that.''

Jimmie Johnson, who finished second Sunday, is the current
points leader.

Miscellaneous
The Chicagoland Speedway gave Kyle Petty a check
for $50,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, proceeds from the
first "Racin' the Bases'' softball game. ... Chicago Bears
quarterback Rex Grossman and former Chicago Bulls center Will
Perdue were among the fans at the race.