After 50 years of hosting two NASCAR event weekends per season, what had been widely speculated is now confirmed: Atlanta Motor Speedway will have just one NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 2011.
Atlanta, never known as being a good sports town in general, had struggled with its attendance for its March and October races until finding a boost when its fall date was moved to Labor Day Weekend last season.
Though that race was a success, the spring crowd was still disappointing. And when it became known that Bruton Smith desired a race date at Speedway Motorsports Inc.-owned Kentucky Motor Speedway, Atlanta became the likely target in many minds.
The track announced Thursday that it will keep the Labor Day Weekend event, which will be Sept. 4 next year.
"This track produces some of the greatest racing the circuit sees," AMS president Ed Clark said. "It remains one of the drivers' favorite tracks, and we will continue to build a platform that sets this one date apart from the rest."
It's already known Kansas Speedway will almost certainly get a second Sprint Cup date in 2011, because International Speedway Corp. (which owns the track) is building a casino on the property and wants to have two lucrative dates at the track.
That date is speculated to come at the expense of Auto Club Speedway in California, which currently has two dates but has struggled to grab the attention of fickle Southern California sports fans.
Other speculation has included Las Vegas getting a second date, but that one would come at the expense of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which has been successful for many years.