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Tour Notes: CMS Downsizes

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, January 18 2010
Charlotte Motor Speedway will trim down seating capacity, it was announced Monday. (File photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Charlotte Motor Speedway will trim down seating capacity, it was announced Monday. (File photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Editor’s note: The annual NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway is being held this week. RacinToday has a trio of writers on the Tour and will be reporting daily with opinions, features, news and notes.

Concord, N.C. – Charlotte Motor Speedway has joined the ranks of NASCAR race tracks decreasing its seating capacity.

Speedway president Marcus Smith revealed on Monday during the opening day of the annual media tour that many of the current seats on the 1.5-mile quad-oval’s frontstretch will be removed and replaced with wider seats prior to the Sprint All-Star race in May.

The new seats will be 25 percent wider in width over its predecessors. Approximately 15,000 new premium seats will be installed in the Chrysler and General Motors grandstand.

Following two seasons which brought a decline in attendance and television ratings, NASCAR has held meetings with team owners and track operators throughout the winter to discuss issues in the sport and potential solutions.

Those meetings have left Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs optimistic about the road ahead for NASCAR.

“I’m probably as excited about the future of racing for this reason: when you go through tough times, what happens lots of times is everybody kind of gets together,” Gibbs said.

“I can honestly say that everybody is pointed in one direction. We want this to work. We want to bounce back and come roaring. And I think we will.

I’m as excited about our sport right now and our future as I’ve ever been. I think everybody is on one page. I think everybody is trying to pull together and I think what you’re going to see is this sport is going to come roaring.”

Kyle Busch is labeled by many as NASCAR’s bad boy.

His first objective is to win the 2010 Sprint Cup championship. But winning over the fans isn’t far behind on last year’s Nationwide Series champion’s to-do list.

“I think it’s important for any driver to become popular with the fans,” Busch said. “Trust me, my awareness and my popularity is very high. But my likeability might not be very high. So that’s what we’re looking to change.

“You want people to like you. You want sponsors to come in and be able to work with you because you’re a brand that they can build their product upon. For winning races, it’s easy to get recognition and popularity. But you’ve got to have the likeability for being a decent guy.”

Busch, who will enter the 2010 season as a team owner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, revealed on Monday that he plans to remain with JGR in the foreseeable future.

“We’re going to have a long-term deal with Kyle Busch to be at Joe Gibbs Racing racing our Cup stuff and Nationwide stuff for many years,” team president J.D. Gibbs said, though actual terms and length of the renewal was not announced.

Less than a month away from the season-opening Daytona 500, NASCAR continues to consider abandoning its yellow line rule at Daytona and Talladega.

Busch offered his take on the current policy of no passing below the yellow line and bump drafting at restrictor plate tracks:

“In the past two years in the truck race at Daytona, I could have went below the yellow line in Turn 3 and wrecked the guy for the lead and won the race,” he said. “But that’s not what I want to do. So I think the yellow line rule needs to stay.

“I think the bumping rule is fine. We can maneuver around that. Get rid of that a little bit and let drivers police themselves.

“I mean people don’t want to see the single-file boringness because we have to ride in a line. They want to see some wrecks and stuff happen. And, ultimately, that’s what’s going to happen at those race tracks.”

Pit strategy and weather enabled Joey Logano to capture his first career Cup victory last summer.

Logano became the youngest driver to win a Cup race when he took the checkered flag in the rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301.

But last season’s rookie of the year said Monday that the flat 1-mile oval in Loudon, N.H. remains a thorn in his side.

“I know we won there, but I feel like we need a lot of work to keep improving there,” he said. “It’s tough. You ask as many questions as you can, whether it’s your teammates, your team or other drivers.

“New Hampshire is a tough, tough race track. I run good there in my Nationwide car. But the line you have to run in a Cup car is completely different.

“And it’s a matter of figuring out which line you need to run and then working on your race car to that point. I feel like the next time we go there I should be able to work on that and get better.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, January 18 2010
One Comment

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  • Keith says:

    The next step CMS should do is change the fall race back to the afternoon or move it back to to the first weekend of October if they keep it at night. I’ve been going to this race since 1986 and I’m thinking of letting these tickets go because of the cold weather that I’m in for 12+ hours on raceday and I’m not the only one who feels this way. This was the race I looked forward the most all year and now I dread going.