Daytona 500 Moved Back One Week In '12 To Accommodate Possible NFL Changes
The Daytona 500 next year "will be moved to Feb. 26, a week later than it customarily has been run," according to Randy Covitz of the K.C. STAR. A "key factor" in the decision to push the race back a week is the "possibility that [the] NFL's current labor situation could delay the 2011 season and push next year's Super Bowl beyond the first weekend of February, overlapping the first week of Speedweeks, including the Budweiser Shootout." Also, the NFL "could eventually go to an 18-game schedule, placing future Super Bowls later in February." NASCAR Senior VP/Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said, "Dealing with the NFL, who knows where they go with the 18 game schedule? We want to get ahead of that." Daytona Int'l Speedway President Joie Chitwood said the decision to start the season one week later "was made in close partnership with NASCAR, our broadcast partners including Fox and others within the industry." Covitz noted the '12 NBA All-Star Game "is scheduled for nearby Orlando, which could create a conflict for fans and television viewers" (KANSASCITY.com, 2/20). The AP's Mark Long noted NASCAR officials "declined to say that the date for the next Daytona 500 -- the fourth Sunday in February -- would remain the same in future years." They also "stopped short of announcing other races during 2012 Speedweeks." That could mean officials are "considering condensing Speedweeks from a two-weekend event spanning 11 days to a weeklong extravaganza" (AP, 2/20). Chitwood said that the Rolex 24 At Daytona dates "will be announced within one month" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/21).
GEARING UP FOR ITS FIRST RACE: In Lexington, Mark Story reported Kentucky Speedway has "already sold all of its 32 luxury suites" for the July 9 Sprint Cup race at the track, the first at the facility, at prices between $45,000-50,000 each. The track plans to "add temporary suites in the form of the corporate hospitality tents one sees at the Kentucky Derby." SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith last month said the Cup race at the track "is the hottest ticket we've got of all the speedways right now." Story noted a "big piece yet to be put in place is signing a primary corporate sponsor for the Cup race" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 2/20).
PROMOTING THE PLAYOFFS: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare reports a new TV commercial titled "The Chase Starts Here" promoting Chicagoland Speedway hosting the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup is being released "to coincide with the start of the annual NASCAR season." The ad, via Deep Alliance Marketing, Illinois, "sells the sizzle of NASCAR via various shots of cars in action on the track and in the pit as we hear souped-up voiceover ad copy talking about all the excitement of the chase" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 2/21).