Smith trying to arrange Tennessee-Va. Tech matchup
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Racing mogul Bruton Smith reiterated his offer to pay Tennessee and Virginia Tech $20 million each to play a football game at Bristol Motor Speedway, and said Friday he would make a personal pitch to the Volunteers' athletic director.
Smith, the billionaire owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., will host Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton during Saturday night's race at Bristol. He claims that Virginia Tech officials are receptive to the game, and he'll gauge Hamilton's interest during the race.
Smith has pitched the game before, and former Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey was against it.
"He's gone," Smith said.
The proposal would call for the game to be played on artificial turf in Bristol's infield, which Smith said he would raze to stage the game. Any game would have to be held in November, he said, because of Bristol's racing schedule.
The allure of a game at Bristol is that the track is located about 120 miles from both campuses and with stadium-style seating, has a capacity of more than 160,000.
It is unclear when the game could be played. Tennessee has its schedule set through 2008, and the track hosts the Nextel Cup's Sharpie 500 every year in late August.
Smith said he won't beg the schools to accept his offer.
"They either like the money or they don't," he said.
Asked why he was interested in staging a football game, the flamboyant Smith was firm in his response.
"The world of racing has already been conquered," he said. "We want to move on to something else."
Stroke of bad luck
Tony Stewart had his first bad luck in months Friday's practice session, wrecking his primary car when he hit the wall early in the session.
Stewart will now race his backup car in Saturday night's race. It's just the fourth time in Stewart's career he'll need his backup car, but the second time this season.
Ricky Craven is leaving Roush Racing at the end of the year after one season driving in the Truck Series.
Craven, a former Cup driver, is 14th in the standings with seven top-10 finishes. When Craven lost his Cup ride late last season, Roush snapped him up to drive a truck for him as a teammate to rookie Todd Kluever.
"Ricky's experience, talent and professionalism have benefited our entire truck operation this year," team owner Jack Roush said. "He has helped our crew chiefs, managers and engineers as well as serving as a mentor."
It's not clear what Craven will do next. At one point this season, his name was mentioned as a candidate to replace -- at least temporarily -- Mark Martin when he retires from Cup racing at the end of the year.
"Roush Racing is an incredible organization, and I have the utmost respect for everyone there," Craven said. "I have truly enjoyed racing in the Truck Series. The competition is outstanding, and I've had a lot of fun this season."
Jeff Burton has launched a campaign to improve teenage driver training as part of his new role on the board of directors of Advanced Car Control Techniques.
The program is called the New Driver Car Control Clinic, and offers a six-hour behind-the-wheel accident avoidance and defensive driving course for teens and their parents.
"We simply are not teaching our teenagers what to do when their car enters the emergency zone," Burton said.
The clinic has students perform a series of exercises learning how to use their eyes, hands and feet to identify obstructions and steer the vehicle away from them under heavy braking. The exercises are performed both on wet and dry pavement.
Each parent-student team attends a 90-minute classroom session followed by one four-hour behind-the-wheel session using the family's own car. Clinics are currently conducted in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland and the Washington area.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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