DALLAS – What do you get when you combine a premier motorsports promoter, a stock car chairman and an open-wheel visionary? A recipe for change.
As racing continues to compete with other forms of entertainment, Texas Motor Speedway is mixing up its menu of motorsports in 2011. Texas' April NASCAR dates for the Sprint Cup (April 9) and Nationwide Series (April 8) will move under the lights for the first time since stock cars debuted at the 1.5-miler in 1997.
"Texas has a great atmosphere to begin with," says Carl Edwards, the track's only three-time Cup winner. "The crowd is just wild, intense, passionate...and to have a race at night will make it a bigger party for the fans. Texas does a great job overall in making the race weekend a fun weekend all around. To add a night race is a real good move on their part."
TMS will continue to run its fall NASCAR triple header with Cup, NNS and the truck series Nov. 3-6.
"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," said Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage. "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."
But open wheel enthusiasts will get a kick out of the proposed changes for the Indy Racing League IZOD IndyCar Series on June 11 when the Firestone 550k transforms into the Firestone Twin 275s. The original race will be broken into two full-field, 275-kilometer (114 laps) romps where two race winners will be crowned. The last time open-wheel held twin-race competition was the June 1981 CART-sanctioned event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Rick Mears won back-to-back races driving for Roger Penske.
"When it came to this special event and the 2011 schedule for our fans, the 'No Limits' theme fit just perfectly," Gossage added. "We worked diligently with NASCAR and 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 IndyCar 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."
Qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be held on June 9Texas with the WinStar World Casino 400 occurring the following night.