Kansas petitions for second race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kansas Speedway's new look could lead to a new date.

International Speedway Corp. formally petitioned NASCAR on Thursday to give the Kansas City track a second Sprint Cup race as early as 2011.

ISC spokesman Lenny Santiago said he expects an answer later this summer, before NASCAR unveils next year's schedule. Santiago declined to talk about details of the petition, which includes a potential date and likely eliminates a race at another ISC track.

"We're hopeful," Santiago said at Daytona International Speedway. "We've been working with NASCAR and recently made our formal request to them. We're not discussing the details of where the date may come from or anything like that, but we have made the request and we'll wait for their decision."

Santiago believes Kansas is a strong candidate to get a second race because of the track's history of well-attended events and the construction of a $521 million hotel and casino overlooking turn two. It also could help that NASCAR's primary sponsor, Sprint, is headquartered in Overland Park, Kan.

"It's a great facility and a great market," he said. "It's an important market for our sponsors and our drivers, and the fact that Sprint is headquartered there is one of the key reasons."

It's unclear how the Cup schedule would shake out if NASCAR grants Kansas another race, but aspects of the proposal seem obvious.

Considering potential weather issues, the date probably wouldn't be in February or March. And since the speedway's current race happens in early October, during the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, a second date would need to be early in the season, probably in April.

The track also hosts an IndyCar race in early May.

Since NASCAR has no plans to expand its 36-race Cup schedule, ISC's plan likely includes taking a date from one of its other tracks.

Those tracks are Daytona, Talladega, Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.), Martinsville, Richmond, Michigan, Phoenix, Watkins Glen, Darlington, Chicagoland and Homestead-Miami.

Auto Club, which has races in February and October, would seem like the obvious choice since attendance has slumped in northern California. ISC could dump the February race there, move a Phoenix race into that slot and then give Kansas that open spot in April.

It's all conjecture now, but it's unlikely ISC -- NASCAR's sister company -- would have submitted a formal petition without some inkling it would be approved.

Kentucky Speedway, meanwhile, has been fighting to get a Cup race for years. Track owner Bruton Smith recently resolved an antitrust lawsuit involving the track's previous owners, but sidestepped questions last week about his plans for landing a Cup race. He has yet to submit a petition.

Kansas is a step ahead.

"We think Kansas City is a great market, a great market for sponsors and for drivers and teams and fans who love the race that they have now," Santiago said. "That area has become a true vacation destination. We think the addition of the casino will continue to draw more people and be able to support two full Cup weekends."