NASCAR Charlotte 2013: Drivers oppose moving Charlotte race to Las Vegas

Jared C. Tilton

Jeff Gordon and other drivers speak out against the idea of moving a race from Charlotte to Las Vegas.

With the majority of NASCAR teams located within close proximity to Charlotte Motor Speedway, any race at the 1.5.-mile oval is considered a home race of sorts.

And with the Sprint Cup Series schedule stretching from February to November, the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 are a welcome reprieve that allow drivers and teams to have consecutive weeks at home and off the road.

This could change though if Speedway Motorsports, Inc., President Bruton Smith follows through and moves the October Charlotte race to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

While he has said nothing is finalized -- and he has neither sought nor received permission from NASCAR to switch dates -- the possibility does exist that for the first time since opening its doors in 1960, the track could host just one points race annually.

The notion that Charlotte could lose one of its three events is not a popular idea within the garage.

"I can't imagine not racing here three times a year, or certainly two points races," said Jeff Gordon Thursday at Charlotte. "I love racing here. It's nice to be home and this is such a special race track.

"I feel like people flock from all over the country to come here not just because of the facility, but what else there is to offer with the Hall of Fame, the city (of Charlotte), the team shops and all those things. I would hate to see that."

The mile-and-a-half oval has special memories for Gordon, whose first Cup victory came at Charlotte in 1994.

Although he understands from a business-sense why adding a second race at Las Vegas would be beneficial, he does not want that date to come at the expense of Charlotte.

"Las Vegas makes great sense from a marketing standpoint," he said. "When we look at the sport and where we're at and how to grow it and get those seats filled, you would certainly think that a race in Las Vegas in October would do pretty well.

"I think Las Vegas deserves to have two races. I would not want to see us take away a race from here."

Gordon wasn't alone in not wanting to see Charlotte lose a race. Among those echoing his comments was Greg Biffle.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver believes Smith's comments shifting a date to Las Vegas is more bluster than reality, as the outspoken track owner is in a legal dispute with city and county officials over numerous issues pertaining to infrastructure improvements and tax breaks.

"I highly doubt whether we see that race move to a different location," Biffle said during a Wednesday teleconference. "There's a lot of people that come to that race. Let's face it, it's a business decision a lot of times. You make business decisions on the amount of people or fans or people you can attract to a particular race.

"If your race is well-attended, I don't see any reason for moving it. ... That's the way I perceive it. I'm an entrepreneur, business type of guy. I see the grandstands fairly full when it comes to our two Charlotte races, a lot of attendance."

Nationwide Series points leader and part-time Cup driver Regan Smith has a rather straight-forward reason why he doesn't want to see another at Las Vegas.

"When (Smith, no relation) made that comment, my wallet was crying because I don't want to go to Vegas any more than I have to, because it costs too much money in the casinos," Smith said.

"In all seriousness, I would hate to see a race leave Charlotte."

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