IRL Says That It Will Return To Kansas Speedway
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kansas City, Kan. – Despite rumors to the contrary, the IndyCar Series’ days of running at Kansas Speedway are not over. So says the head of the Indy Racing League.
“I will promise you that one thing, this (2010) is not the last year,” IRL CEO Randy Bernard told RacinToday.com on Friday when asked if the IRL was racing for the final time at Kansas Speedway this Saturday.
Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway was less definite about the future of the open-wheel series at his track but only because speedway officials are still working on next year’s schedule.
“There are a lot of moving pieces right now,” Warren said. “Nothing is set yet.”
Warren did say, “We love the series. The drivers are great to work with, the series is great to work with.”
The IRL has been holding IndyCar Series races at Kansas since the track opened in 2001.
The series played to a packed grandstand the first couple of seasons but attendance began to taper off in recent years.
This year, the IndyCar race at the speedway was moved from it’s traditional Sunday home to Saturday afternoon. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which has been racing a companion event with the IndyCars on Saturday since 2001, has moved to the Sunday time slot.
It is expected that beginning next year, Kansas will host two yearly Sprint Cup races and with plans to build a road-racing course at the speedway, it appears that a Grand-Am Rolex Series event could be held there as early as next year.
Where, exactly, all of that would leave the IndyCar series vis a vis the speedway has been the subject of speculation.
Bernard, in Kansas City to attend Saturday’s Road Runner Turbo 300, said his series will roll on in Kansas City and that Kansas City fans will come to love open-wheel racing.
“The momentum we have right now is up,” Bernard, who was named to replace Tony George as CEO in February, said. “Don’t forget, they (the IRL and Champ Car) only reunified two years ago. It’s going to take time for the people of America to figure it back out.
“I keep telling people that I might have gotten kicked in the butt with a golden horseshoe. I’m the luckiest man on earth because I think I came in at the right time. I think this (IndyCar) is going to do really well. I think it’s going to do better this year than last year here. On a Saturday afternoon, I think it’s going to do excellent.”
Bernard said of the move from Sunday to Saturday, “it’s what ABC wanted.”
Warren says that with all that is happening at his facility this year, it is tough to predict what will happen in future years.
He said the track has yet to petition NASCAR for the second date but said he is certain that once that petition is filed, it will be improved.
Ground breaking for the casino – approval of which was the key to getting the second Cup date – which is being built in Turn 2 at Kansas, was held on Friday morning.
Warren said that once construction starts on the road course, that project could be completed quickly enough to hold a Grand-Am race next season.
The IRL coming back? Don’t count it out, he said, but stay tuned.
He said he would not rule out having four weekends of major racing at Kansas.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments