Mid-Ohio Set For First NASCAR Race, Which Came At Behest of Series Sponsor Nationwide
Officials at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course are "preparing for a crowd this weekend the likes of which probably hasn’t been seen since the glory days of CART in the 1990s," according to Tim May of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Saturday's Nationwide Series Children's Hospital 200 marks the "first NASCAR-affiliated race in Mid-Ohio’s five decades." Track officials said that advance ticket sales "have exceeded other events this year," including the Izod IndyCar Series race on Aug. 4. Track President Craig Rust said, "When I got here, I immediately said this would be a great market. ... The Nationwide Series is a good fit, especially with Nationwide Insurance and Nationwide Hospital behind (them) -- that's fantastic." May noted there have been "major NASCAR events for years in states bordering Ohio, but before this year, the Truck Series had been the only one to visit the state, for a couple of season at Mansfield Motorsports Park" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/14).
NATIONWIDE IS ON THEIR SIDE: ESPN.com's Brant James wrote Rust is "simply glad Mid-Ohio is in the equation, as the combined ambition of series sponsor Nationwide," which is based about an hour away in Columbus, and promoters Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, who purchased the track in '11, "congealed into the first top-three-series NASCAR event at the facility." Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve "falling off the Nationwide schedule provided the opening, and the way the event has been embraced by local businesses and citizens -- Columbus resident and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal attempted unsuccessfully to land a ride for the event -- has created a spectacle with a home-pride feel" (ESPN.com, 8/15). USA TODAY's Nate Ryan writes there is an "underlying charitable theme" to the race, as 13 cars will feature "varying tributes to patients at a pediatric hospital in Columbus" (USA TODAY, 8/16). The COLUMBUS DISPATCH's May noted Sprint Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose will be "competing in Nationwide for the first time since winning at Montreal in 2011 and doing so at the behest" of his primary sponsor Stanley (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/15).