You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

breaking news

EXCLUSIVE: Document names Greg Kelley’s friend as new suspect in child sex case

Epstein steers talk to idea of a NASCAR race at COTA


Highlights

NASCAR has expressed interest in having more races that aren’t on oval tracks.

The change in management of Formula One could open a door to Austin for NASCAR.

While NASCAR gears up for Sunday’s Daytona 500, its kickoff and signature event, Circuit of the Americas officials are casting their eyes toward the most popular racing series in the United States.

COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein told the American-Statesman recently that he’s interested in pursuing a race for Austin in NASCAR’s top-tier series.

“I’ve had contact with NASCAR officials, and we’ve heard from their fans and drivers,” Epstein said. “Everyone seems to want to be here, so I see no reason why it couldn’t come together.”

The mere thought of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick negotiating the twists, turns, esses and elevation changes along the 3.4-mile circuit stirs the imagination.

“It’s something fans are asking for in droves,” Epstein said. “We hear it, and I’m assuming (NASCAR) hears it, too. They are continuing to tweak their product, looking for new ideas. This would be something different, a change of pace.

“I’d be pretty optimistic it could happen because NASCAR said they want more road courses, more non-ovals. Now that they’ve said that, this is the best one in the country. So if enough fans want them here, I think they’ll be here one day.”

Epstein did not put a timetable on a possible race at COTA. NASCAR currently has two road-course events — at Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y. — jammed into a crowded 36-race schedule that stretches from late February to mid-November.

Steve O’Donnell, a NASCAR executive vice president, acknowledged last year that fans have been asking for different types of races and venues.

Significant obstacles could stand in the way of Austin landing a race. Most of the tracks where NASCAR races are owned by Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports — including Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth — or the France family’s International Speedway Corp. It’s highly unlikely either would give up a race.

Texas Motor Speedway could see a COTA event as competition, too. TMS President Eddie Gossage is in Daytona Beach, Fla., this week and was unavailable for comment. Efforts to reach NASCAR officials about the possibility of a road race at COTA also were unsuccessful.

Formula One management hasn’t viewed NASCAR favorably in the past, but Epstein said the takeover of F1 by U.S.-based Liberty Media could ease the way to a purpose-built F1 track co-existing with NASCAR.

“I think the objections might be a little lighter than they used to be,” he said. “I don’t think they would fight it strongly. That might be one of the healthy changes that could happen with Liberty’s ownership.”

Some NASCAR drivers and teams have toured COTA in the past, giving it rave reviews.

“The drivers and teams love this track and the city,” said Katja Heim, chief operating officer for Circuit of the Americas. “I think they’d enjoy a race here. We have a lot to offer.”

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, now a Fox analyst, said at November’s U.S. Grand Prix that COTA could be an intriguing site for NASCAR.

Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup champion who will start eighth in the Daytona 500, told the American-Statesman a few years back while testing at COTA: “This could work. With the tight corners, you could just dive-bomb people. It’d be fun and frustrating all at once. It’s an amazing track that brings a lot of worlds to one place.”

Epstein doesn’t know what the odds are, but he’s bullish on the idea.

“NASCAR should be here — I will tell you that,” he said. “I think their fans want them here, and I think it’s good for the sport.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Cubs' Contreras shows how gesture can make fan for life
Cubs' Contreras shows how gesture can make fan for life

Sometimes good things happen when you least expect it, as occurred Friday at Wrigley Field after a long rain delay during the Cubs-Brewers game. Catcher Willson Contreras decided to warm up before the game resumed by playing catch near the Cubs' dugout. But instead of throwing to a teammate, Contreras did so with a young fan instead. Contreras and...
With pitching and prime-age players, Rockies sense this year is different
With pitching and prime-age players, Rockies sense this year is different

The last time he was healthy at the end of a season, Greg Holland pitched in the World Series. His new teammates on the Colorado Rockies have asked him about that assignment, for the Kansas City Royals in 2014, but Holland does not know what to say. “It’s hard to explain what that experience is like, so hopefully I won’t have to explain...
A year before World Cup, Russian clubs battle financial woes
A year before World Cup, Russian clubs battle financial woes

Kuban Krasnodar's fans hoped that signing Andrei Arshavin would herald long-awaited success for their club. The local governor hoped for a pre-election boost.  By July 2015, Arshavin had lost much of the pace and attacking skill which made him a star in England for Arsenal years earlier, but he was still among Russia's best-known footballers. ...
Last year, Turner took the majors by storm. So, what happened?
Last year, Turner took the majors by storm. So, what happened?

Late last season, when Trea Turner had pulled out a match, struck it against the bottom of his spike, and promptly torched the National League as if it had been soaked in a mixture of kerosene and bacon grease, I was chatting with one Washington National about the rookie's adjustment to the clubhouse, which had been seamless. We agreed that any adjustment...
Will Jets ever find an answer at QB?
Will Jets ever find an answer at QB?

Forgive the Jets fan who has seen this scene enough, who surveyed the team's quarterback situation during the team's first official day of offseason action Tuesday and saw one veteran journeyman in the middle, a young quarterback over each shoulder, a wide open competition in the foreground and a 100 yards of questions in the background. Former starter...
More Stories