NHIS to be sold, but status of its Cup dates up in the air

The home to New England's only Nextel Cup races is being sold, a move that leaves the future of NASCAR racing at New Hampshire International Speedway uncertain.

As first reported by The Boston Globe in its Thursday editions, NHIS chairman Bob Bahre has agreed to sell his track to O. Bruton Smith, who is the CEO and chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc.

An announcement is expected to come Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's Race to the Chase stop. Texas Motor Speedway is owned by Smith's SMI group.

While track owners certainly wield influence over when they host races, NASCAR retains control of the actual dates of the races on its schedule.

SMI owns several race tracks that host two Nextel Cup events each, including Bristol Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway. Texas Motor Speedway hosts two events as well. SMI also owns Infineon Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which currently host one Cup race each year.

The Loudon races at New Hampshire play a key part in deciding NASCAR's champion.
The July date is the first of 10 NASCAR races that serve as a prelude to the Chase for the Cup, or NASCAR's 10-race playoff system, which kicks off at NHIS in September.

Any time a track is sold, the status of its Nextel Cup races always becomes a hot topic. There has been talk that one or both of Loudon's dates could be taken away and a likely recipient of one date would be Las Vegas, but according to The Globe's report, that might not happen.

Another possible scenario would be that NHIS swaps one of its dates with Texas, leaving TMS as the starting point to NASCAR's playoffs.

"Bruton's a businessman," the source told The Globe. "He sees how well they've done up there."