ORIGINAL POST 2-26-2017: While NASCAR gears up for Sunday's Daytona 500, its kickoff and signature event, Circuit of the Americas officials are casting their eyes toward the most popular racing series in the United States.
COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein told the American-Statesman recently that he's interested in pursuing a race for Austin in NASCAR's top-tier series.
"I've had contact with NASCAR officials, and we've heard from their fans and drivers," Epstein said. "Everyone seems to want to be here, so I see no reason why it couldn't come together."
"It's something fans are asking for in droves," Epstein said. "We hear it, and I'm assuming (NASCAR) hears it, too. They are continuing to tweak their product, looking for new ideas. This would be something different, a change of pace.
"I'd be pretty optimistic it could happen because NASCAR said they want more road courses, more non-ovals. Now that they've said that, this is the best one in the country. So if enough fans want them here, I think they'll be here one day."
Significant obstacles could stand in the way of Austin landing a race. Most of the tracks where NASCAR races are owned by Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports - including Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth - or the France family's International Speedway Corp. It's highly unlikely either would give up a race.
UPDATE 2-28-2017: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage wanted to be as respectful as possible, but couldn't help but rip the Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin for believing it could land a NASCAR race one day.
"I don't blame them for wanting NASCAR races, it's just that they're 20 years too late," Gossage said Monday. "I don't think they know the business, or they wouldn't be saying such things."
TMS and NASCAR are entering the second year of a five-year deal, and Gossage said that the track is "protected contractually" from NASCAR adding an additional race within the region.