It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” with regard to Iowa Speedway hosting NASCAR’s premier racing series, the Sprint Cup Series. There likely would have to be some changes made at the speedway to accommodate a race of that type, but it’s something the speedway appears ready and able to do.
Sprint Cup owner/driver Michael Waltrip said as much during comments made during the most recent Camping World Truck Series race held at Iowa Speedway. Newton, he noted, loves racing and rolls out the welcome mat like few other racing communities in the United States.
And, racing loves Newton. Ask any driver of one of the many series that visit Iowa Speedway which track is his or her favorite, and don’t be surprised when their answer is “Iowa.” A lot of the credit for that goes to the ownership and management at the speedway, but the community deserves much of the credit, as well.
“The whole community has embraced this racetrack,” Waltrip said. “It’s time they had their own Cup race.”
We wholeheartedly agree. In fact, it would appear a change could be made quite easily for the 2014 season.
According to the 2013 Sprint Cup schedule released this week, both of Iowa Speedway’s Nationwide Series dates have been paired with races at Long Pond, Pa.’s “Tricky Triangle,” Pocono Raceway.
Promoters at that track have done their best to address driver and fan complaints there, repaving the track and shortening the length of races. But those haven’t fixed the Pennsylvania track’s bigger problem: attendance.
Pocono Raceway has a stated seating capacity of 100,000, but has failed to reach that number in each of its past four “fall” races (the second of the two races the track hosts each year). Since 2008, attendance has dropped off at Pocono about 20 percent for the second race of the Sprint Cup season.
Iowa Speedway made a strong statement in its most recent race weekend. Competing directly with all three in-state universities playing in Iowa that day, attendance for the September Camping World Truck Series race was right around 75 percent of capacity.
A Sprint Cup race in Newton wouldn’t be just any old race, either. If you bring it, the fans will come — and the drivers will love it.
We’re ready, NASCAR.