Time for a Sprint Cup race in Canada

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:11 PM ET

Over the past several seasons, it seems each time I came across NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications Ramsey Poston, he just rolled his eyes because the first thing I always ask him was: When will a Sprint Cup race come to Canada?

His look of "Do I really have to answer this question again?" frankly might have worked in previous encounters but after this past weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA 200 at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve it's a whole new ball game so to speak.

For the fourth consecutive year 70,000-plus Canadian stock car racing fans have packed the 4.361-km road course on picturesque Ile Notre Dame for a second tier event, a record that few other NASCAR venues can boast over the same period.

In an era where NASCAR has been battered by a bad economy, resulting in shrinking attendance everywhere, Montreal stands out like an honest banker on Wall Street.

And far from being the lone voice expressing the sentiment that Canada deserves and can support a Sprint Cup race, other much more influential names are joining the choir.

At Watkins Glen in July, Sprint Cup championship points-leader Kevin Harvick said that Montreal should be in the mix to take a Cup event from a track where fan support has waned -- such as California, Atlanta or Michigan.

Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon also supports a race in Canada -- although for more selfish reasons -- as he is involved in a proposed oval track near Niagara Falls.

More importantly several media outlets in the U.S. are now touting Canada as an enticing market for NASCAR's top loop.

Veteran motorsports analyst Mike Mulhern of mikemulhern.net and award-winning reporter Jim Pedley of racintoday.com both have recently urged NASCAR to move north of the 49th parallel.

If Montreal can get 70,000 to buy tickets to a Nationwide Series race, it would have no problem selling 100,000 or more for a Sprint Cup race.

And the argument that Cup tickets are way more expensive doesn't wash here. In June at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve more than 115,000 Canadian race fans forked out for Formula One ducats the cost of which make Cup tickets look like matinee prices on Broadway.

Back to you Mr. Poston.

Good times for Tracy

This week has been a good week for Paul Tracy.

On Monday, word leaked out that the Toronto native was set to sign a two-race deal with Dreyer & Reinhold Racing, the IZOD IndyCar team that put him in the seat of its No. 24 Dallara at Watkins Glen earlier this season.

On Tuesday, Tracy confirmed the contract with D&R that will see him race Saturday at the Kentucky Indy 300 and at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on Sept. 18.

The really good news, however, is that it gives Tracy his best opportunity in three seasons to audition for a full-time ride in 2011.

"I really grateful to Robbie (Buhl) for this opportunity," Tracy said via a teleconference call on Tuesday afternoon. "And I believe that the team and I are capable of a top-10 finish at Kentucky.

"But my focus is on 2011. My focus is having a couple of good results for D&R and turning that into a full-time job next season."

There is also a chance Tracy could be in the No. 24 car at the final IZOD IndyCar race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21 if regular driver Mike Conway isn't fully recovered from injuries suffered in a crash at Indianapolis earlier this season.


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