According to a release issued by the speedway Thursday afternoon, Atlanta Motor Speedway will host only one Sprint Cup Series event in 2011. The speedway located about an hour south of downtown Atlanta has hosted two Sprint Cup Series events for 50 years.
With the much anticipated announcement that Kentucky Speedway will be given a spot on the Sprint Cup schedule, Atlanta is the first of Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks to lose a date.
"Atlanta Motor speedway has provided top-quality racing entertainment to spectators from across the nation and around the world for 50 years," speedway president, Ed Clark said in the statement. "While our schedule will change, our commitment to the racing fans who have been the heart and soul of Atlanta Motor Speedway through these years will be stronger than ever. Our entire staff will be even more driven to produce the top annual sporting event in Georgia for many years to come."
The lone race at the 1.5-mile speedway will be held Labor Day weekend on Sunday night, September 5.
"We were thrilled with the acquisition of the Labor Day date two years ago and are proud to host such a prestigious, historical date on the NASCAR schedule," said Clark. "This track produces some of the greatest racing the circuit sees, it remains one of the drivers’ favorite tracks and we will continue to build a platform that sets this one date apart from the rest."
This is the first move in what is gearing up to be a major realignment to the Sprint Cup Series schedule. With an announcement planned by the Kentucky Speedway coming on August 10, it is expected the 1.5-mile track will be the newest addition to the Sprint Cup schedule.
The announcement of Atlanta losing a date may only be the first of many moves planned for the upcoming schedule. Along with Atlanta and Kentucky, SMI also owns New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Infineon Raceway, and could possibly shuffle more dates around between their facilities.
Many rumors are swirling around about the possible changes to the schedule, including moving the season finale to Las Vegas.
Speaking with media at Indianapolis, NASCAR CEO Brian France said the sanctioning body was considering “impactful” changes to the schedule, and Thursday’s announcement seems to be the initial step in that process.
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