One of the first tracks to really push for a second Sprint Cup race was Texas Motor Speedway. A few years ago the speedway got its wish. Now, with changes already expected to be in place for the 2011 schedule, Texas makes one change to its schedule that is sure to excite its fans.
Inside the House of Blues in Dallas on Tuesday, track President Eddie Gossage unveiled the race schedule for Texas, and announced that, for the first time, his track will host a race under the lights.
To Gossage, hosting a night race has been special.
"When I started back in this business 31 seasons ago at Nashville Speedway at the Fairgrounds, we had two nighttime races there," Gossage said.
"Bristol added one in 1978. And so those were the only night races on the schedule—and over time, it's become the hot thing because fans dig it."
Gossage says that night racing is appealing to the fans because the cars look faster and that the "monsters come out at night." However, he also said there are some practical reasons to run a night race.
"Fans not having to worry about getting home and getting to work the next day, and if there is a rain issue, you've got Sunday as a rain date," Gossage said.
"You have a shot at getting it all done on a weekend and still give people time to get home and get ready for work and school and things like that.
"There are entertainment benefits, there are competition benefits, and there are practical benefits as well."
At the same time, NASCAR is still giving Texas its annual Chase race. Gossage noted that its Chase event is the biggest crowd and biggest purse, so there is no reason to mess with something that is working well.
Over 1,600 fans attended the announcement, which were season ticket-holders at the track. Gossage said when tickets went on sale, they were sold out within three days. Among the other attendees were Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman, two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, and NASCAR chairman Brian France. Gossage was pleased to see France make it to the announcement.
"I think NASCAR is being creative and inventive because these are tougher times," Gossage said. "We need to be more responsive to the fans because of the economy and things of that nature.
"So I think they've looked at the schedule and are trying to figure out what makes the best sense for the fans from the weather standpoint and all kinds of standpoints.
"I've just never seen them be as inclusive and as cooperative as they've been, and I've been doing this for 31 years. I give Brian and Mike [Helton, NASCAR president] a lot of credit. I appreciated Brian coming. He didn't hesitate. I think they realize we're all in."
Gossage said that they do things differently in Texas, and the night race was a long-time coming.
The complete 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule is to be released this week.