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CUP: Big Changes At Texas Motor Speedway

Texas Motor Speedway is retooling its NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar for 2011.

The April 9, 2011, Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be the first Saturday night NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the track’s 15-year history and the first night race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

The track’s marketing campaign for next season will be “No Limits,” and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage kicked off the announcement at the House of Blues in Dallas Tuesday night, with a party featuring a live concert by the Goo Goo Dolls.

“When it came to this special event and the 2011 schedule for our fans, the ‘No Limits’ theme fit just perfectly,” Gossage said. “We worked diligently with NASCAR and the Indy Racing League to provide a racing season with a dramatic new look for our race fans. With the move to a night Sprint Cup race and historic twin Indy-car races to go along with a NASCAR triple-header to close our season, we have a special racing season in store for the fans of Texas Motor Speedway.”

Most of the on-track activity for the Samsung Mobile 500 race week will be in the evening. The week opens with The Dallas Morning News Qualifying Days, with the Nationwide Series teams qualifying Thursday, April 7, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 and Sprint Cup Series teams qualifying April 8 for the Samsung Mobile 500.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, which has been a Saturday daytime race since 1997, will become the first Nationwide Series race run at night in Texas Motor Speedway history when it moves to 8 p.m. April 8. The Nationwide race will be preceded by the final “Happy Hour” practice for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers for the Samsung Mobile 500.

The Samsung Mobile 500 moves from its traditional Sunday afternoon slot to a night show on April 9, with a live broadcast in primetime on FOX beginning at 7 p.m. CT.

“I’ve been around NASCAR racing at night my entire life – from attending night races in Nashville to promoting night races at Bristol and Charlotte – and I’ve always found them to be electric,” Gossage said. “We’ve always wanted one here and this year NASCAR presented us with the opportunity to run live in prime time on FOX Sports with the Samsung Mobile 500. We jumped at the chance to provide our fans with variety in our two NASCAR events. They also will get to see our first-ever Nationwide Series night race as well when we run the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on the evening prior.”

The 2011 Texas Motor Speedway season will close with the Nov. 3-6 NASCAR triple-header weekend that is highlighted by the AAA Texas 500, the eighth race in the 10-event Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The race week will kick off Thursday, Nov. 3, with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying for the Longhorn 350k. On Nov. 4, qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 and O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race will be held in the afternoon and then followed that evening by the Longhorn 350k starting at 8 p.m. CT.

Final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “Happy Hour” practice will open Nov. 5, and then be followed by the running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge with the start time still to be determined. The race week culminates Nov. 6 with the AAA Texas 500, which has proven to be a pivotal race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series battle for the championship. The AAA Texas 500, which begins at 2 p.m. CT.

“With the AAA Texas 500 having the largest crowd and purse of all the 10 tracks in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, there wasn’t a need to make a dramatic change to this event weekend,” Gossage said. “Our fans get an opportunity to enjoy all three of NASCAR’s top-tier series in one weekend while each is in the stretch run of the championship. It is an ideal way to close our racing season.”

Season tickets for 2011, starting as low as $270 and featuring a host of new benefits, will go on sale Wednesday at 9 a.m. CT and are available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.