NASCAR Teleconference Transcript 2009 NASCAR National Series Schedules August 19, 2008 An interview with: MIKE HELTON ED CLARK GILLIAN ZUCKER RICK HUMPHREY JERRY JAURON MATT ALEXANDER HERB BRANHAM: Welcome, everyone, to this week's ...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
2009 NASCAR National Series Schedules
August 19, 2008
An interview with:
HERB BRANHAM: Welcome, everyone, to this week's teleconference. This follows the announcement made earlier today of the 2009 schedules for NASCAR national series competition. To open up today's teleconference, I have a very special guest, I'll start off with NASCAR president Mike Helton.
MIKE HELTON: Thanks, Herb. Good afternoon, everyone. The announcement today of our three 2009 national series schedule has some significant news in it. We think this news and these moves benefit all the industry, including the tracks and the teams, but most importantly our fans.
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, we've realigned the schedule, resulting in three changes. The Auto Club Speedway's second race in 2009 will move from the Labor Day weekend to October the 11th. That makes it the fourth event in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Atlanta Motor Speedway's fall race will move to the Labor Day weekend, which will be September the 6th in 2009. Talladega Superspeedway's second race in 2009 moves into Atlanta's former fall slot, and that will become the seventh race in the Chase on November the 1st.
The other thing on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, you'll notice there are four off weeks in 2009. That's an increase from one from this season. That's due in part to the way the calendar falls with the holidays.
In addition the NASCAR Nationwide Series has a new event coming up in 2009 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. That race will be on Saturday, August the 1st. On August the 28th, the NASCAR Truck Series takes its popular brand of racing to the nation's third largest market with a nighttime event at Chicagoland Speedway.
We're excited about these realignments and we're very pleased today that we're also being joined by the respective track presidents who have worked with us on these realignments.
Herb, I guess we'll hear from those presidents.
HERB BRANHAM: We'd like each of our track presidents to give us a brief opening statement about the 2009 schedule, then we'll swing it over to the media for questions.
First up, Ed Clark, Atlanta Motor Speedway.
ED CLARK: Thank you. We're very excited. First of all, I want to thank the folks from Auto Club Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. I think this is a win-win-win for all of us and certainly a win for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and for the fans. We've been desiring a night race here in Atlanta for a number of years. Mike Helton I'm sure will tell you we've had many conversations about that. We're bringing Labor Day racing back to the Southeast and doing it with a nighttime event. A lot of excitement around here today. We made our announcement a few hours ago here in Atlanta. Tremendous outpouring for that. The initial comments are just what we expected. A lot of frenzy. We expect to build right on into next year. We're going to do some things to enhance the weekend.
Our schedule is going to change a little bit. Instead of the Nationwide Series event being in the spring, we're going to run a Truck Series event on Saturday of our March weekend along with the Kobalt Tools 500. That's March 7th and 8th next year. Then we're going to move our Nationwide event and run it on Saturday night, along with pole qualifying on Saturday and our Sprint Cup race will be Sunday night next year.
We're really excited. The market is excited about it. Can't wait to get started working on it.
HERB BRANHAM: Ed, thank you.
Continuing on, next up we'll welcome Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker.
GILLIAN ZUCKER: We're having to pinch ourselves here to be sure this is really happening. We know how complicated the schedule change was to complete. For that reason, we have to thank NASCAR, the tracks involved, the sponsors and the broadcast partners.
The 2009 schedule is a victory for race fans. We're tremendously excited to bring the thrill of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to Southern California. But we feel this is more than just the Chase coming to Southern California. It's a chance for all NASCAR fans to benefit from what the sport has become famous for: a way to see the country while experiencing NASCAR. From a weather standpoint, it's hard to think of a better time to visit Southern California than early October.
So as the newest host of the most exciting playoff in sports, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, we look forward to being a piece of the championship puzzle.
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you very much. We'll now hear from Talladega Superspeedway president, Rick Humphrey.
RICK HUMPHREY: Obviously we're also very excited about our new position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule for several different reasons. The opportunity to be race No. 7 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is very appealing. Since we moved our second race of the season to October back in 1997, we've been a big part of the championship battle. We believe that moving even deeper into the Chase makes Talladega even more significant to the championship.
Also by moving to the end of October and coupled with Atlanta's new date, that separates our two events, which is very beneficial for both parties. And then lastly in 2009 our race weekend falls on Halloween, which is certainly something we feel is an asset and something we'll be able to capitalize on.
Like Ed mentioned his scheduling changing a little bit, our schedule for the season in 2009 will change somewhat. We'll move our ARCA event to the spring weekend of April 24th to the 26th and have a triple-header in the spring, then in the fall the Craftsman Truck Series as well as the AMP Energy 500 the weekend of October 30th through November 1st.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks, Rick. We'll move now to the Midwest, Iowa Speedway president, Jerry Jauron.
JERRY JAURON: Good afternoon. The team here at Iowa Speedway is elated to be part of the Nationwide Series for 2009. Though the past two years we've enjoyed two sellouts from the NASCAR East/West Series, our selection to join the Nationwide group will strengthen what has already become a very successful partnership between NASCAR and Iowa Speedway.
Furthermore, to be associated with Nationwide, with the many thousands of employees actually right down the road in our capital, Des Moines, Iowa, makes this announcement even more noteworthy. We have a tremendous fan base here in the Midwest with what we believe is enormous growth potential. Our Iowa fans are crazy about racing since we have no professional baseball, basketball or football teams in the state to compete with. We're very excited about our future.
HERB BRANHAM: Last but by no means least, welcome Chicagoland Speedway president Matt Alexander.
MATT ALEXANDER: I appreciate that introduction to clarify. We're very excited about the NASCAR Truck Series coming to Chicagoland Speedway. It's a strong addition to our schedule that includes the Sprint Cup and Nationwide and IRL. It bodes very well with our efforts to really continue to try to provide the best possible experience when our fans and guests come to Chicagoland Speedway.
Unlike Jerry, we have a lot of great competition in this market and we're very proud of the progress that we've played in trying to establish NASCAR, motorsports and Chicagoland Speedway. Really a big key of our goal is to create us as a big part of the historic and impressive Chicago sports landscape that exists.
For all of you that came to our inaugural events under the lights, Ed talked about it a little bit earlier, but having a night race is absolutely incredible. We built a lot of momentum on that. There's a lot of buzz around that event, not only at the event itself, but in the Chicago market, which really bodes well for the sport in trying to captivate this third largest market. A more tangible example of our growth in this market is our TV ratings for this year for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is up 26% compared to last year. Obviously we're making great strides in that department. Even with that momentum, I really believe we've only scratched the surface in this market and really developing more motorsports fans and we still are trying to provide even a better experience for our fans that come year in, year out. Adding NASCAR trucks to our schedule clearly falls in line with that line of thinking. I think it's a win-win for our fans and our guests.
The other thing it does as far as an adjustment, we are actually moving our date two weeks previous. We used to be the weekend after Labor Day. This weekend we'll fall with trucks and IRL on August 28th and 29th. Why that is important is all my friends in the Midwest understand that really the summertime in the Midwest is Memorial weekend to Labor Day psychologically for families and getting the summer activities in. So for us to fall in line in that calendar really bodes well for us to continue to provide a great community spirit and a family spirit out here as well. We're excited with the addition of trucks to meet the growing excitement of the motorsports fan base in the Chicago market.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to everyone for those opening statements. We're going to go right to the media now for questions.
Q: Mr. Helton, I wanted to ask what the key factors were for making Iowa Speedway look so attractive for a Nationwide Series date?
MIKE HELTON: Well, it began with having an event that opened up, then looking around as to the opportunities and options we had to put that event back in the schedule somewhere else.
Iowa came to mind. We have some experience there, as Jerry mentioned, with the Grand National Division racing there. The competitors that have been there speak very highly of it. We went by to look at the track. There's no question that the facility is first rate. It's in the heartland of America. Our series sponsor, Nationwide, has a great presence in Des Moines, in that area. Iowa has always been a very strong motorsports community across the board, open-wheel and stock car both. So it made sense to us.
Q: Gillian, how much of a factor was attendance in making this switch? Mike can address it as well. I know the attendance for the Labor Day race hasn't been what you've expected or what you wanted it to be. I know the time of the year the race was there is a hot weekend, makes it uncomfortable for fans to come out. How much of a factor was attendance in making this switch?
GILLIAN ZUCKER: You know, we are very clear about the fact that this is an emerging market for NASCAR but also a very important one. Since the track opened in 1997, we've seen nothing but growth in this market, even with a less-than-ideal schedule. What we see here is a real opportunity for people to come out and experience NASCAR in temperate conditions and we believe it certainly will help with our attendance and help us to continue to grow.
MIKE HELTON: I think Gillian addressed it from her perspective. That's where NASCAR gets its influence, is from the track operator. That's what triggers a realignment, is the track operators themselves.
I would remind everybody that the inaugural Labor Day event in California was the addition of a second race in California, and the schedule throughout the 60-year history of NASCAR has been a work in progress to find the right place at the right time for the series. In this case it's the Sprint Cup Series.
But I think Gillian did a good job of answering from the track's perspective.
Continued in part 2