Sprint Cup racing could be coming to Canada

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:26 AM ET

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - There is a move afoot in NASCAR to add a third road course race to the Sprint Cup series and Canada — as in Toronto or Montreal — is being touted as the preferred destination.

The Cup series has only two road courses — Infineon Raceway in California and Watkins Glen in New York — on its 36-race calendar.

And no less a voice than five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is urging NASCAR bosses to move one of the 34 oval races on the regular-season schedule to a road course in Canada.

“I think having more road course races would be great for our series,” Johnson said. “I personally think that heading north into Canada would be the place to do it.”

Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve already has successfully hosted the junior NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA 200 for the past four seasons and will do so again next week.

But there has been a public spat between the promoters — the Octane Group/International Speedway Corporation — and the Quebec government that injects $1.5 million annually into that race.

Tourism Quebec has said it will stop funding the race after this year.

In Toronto, with new ownership at Mosport International Raceway headed by Ron Fellows is already talking about an aggressive upgrading of the former Formula One facility, there will now be an alternative to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

And Johnson said he was aware of the Mosport option.

“There are a couple of facilities that we could put on an awesome show at with a new fan base, new sponsors potentially, a whole new thing for our series and it wouldn’t be too far to tow up there,” he said. “I’m for it. I don’t know if it will ever happen.

“There’s obviously a lot of big contracts that exist between (oval) tracks and NASCAR. But I think it would be awesome to have it (in Toronto or Montreal).”

Fellows, who teamed with Johnson Saturday in JR Motorsports Chevrolets in the Nationwide ZIPPO 200, said it certainly is his and his partners’ goal to land a NASCAR race at Mosport’s 4-km permanent road course.

“We are open for business,” Fellows said Sunday at the Glen.

Fellows will be back in a JRM Chevrolet next week at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and is certain to press the case for Mosport with NASCAR bosses there as well.

Right now the Greater Toronto Area with a population of more than 5 million is the fifth largest market in North America and the only one without a major series NASCAR race.

Meanwhile, another Sprint Cup champion — Jeff Gordon — has also weighed in with his opinion on adding a third road course race not only to the schedule but in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

“I’ve always said that in order to make the championship fully complete and find out the true best team and driver, the only thing that I think we’re missing in the Chase right now is a road course,’’ Gordon said. “I feel like the Chase has about everything right now, from short tracks to superspeedways to intermediates.

“But if you wanted to look at just one little thing that was missing, it would be a road course.’’

All of the talk has not escaped the attention of the folks who end up making these decisions.

NASCAR president Mike Helton said that while there are currently no talks going on about adding or moving races with the Sprint Cup series, he would not close the door on the subject.

“As we sit here today, we still maintain the thought process that when we introduced the Chase that we were not going to shuffle tracks around to adapt to the Chase,” Helton told the media at Watkins Glen. “Now, however that might work out in the future, if someone comes to us and asks to change stuff around, we would have to take a look at it, consider it. (But) There’s nothing on the table today.”

Nuts and bolts

IZOD IndyCar Series

A botched restart with five laps to go ended the IZOD IndyCar MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 in controversy with Ryan Hunter-Reay finally emerging as the winner after the race was called because of rain on the track.

Oriol Servia was awarded second, Scott Dixon third and Canadian rookie James Hinchcliffe fourth.

With a light rain falling IndyCar officials okayed a re-start after a caution had come out because of moisture on the one-mile oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Will Power was livid after his car was wrecked on that restart, costing him valuable championship points in his battle with Dario Franchitti.

Power contended that the race should not have been re-started.

“These same race officials keep making decisions that put drivers in danger,” Power said.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

Rain was the winner Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Helluva Sour Cream Dips at the Glen after race officials postponed the event until Monday at 10 a.m.

The rain started before the anthem singer had even finished her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and stopped only for a few minutes late in the afternoon when jet dryers were brought out in a failing attempt to dry the 2.45 mile Watkins Glen International road course.

The dryers made only about two laps around the track when the rain started up again.


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