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
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