Smith hopeful 2011 IndyCar season ends in Vegas Print
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Saturday, 04 September 2010 18:23
NASCAR Headline News

 SPARTA, Ky. (AP) - Speedway Motorsports Inc. owner Bruton Smith appears to be getting his wish to have a major racing series end its season at his track in Las Vegas.
It's just not NASCAR.
Smith said before Saturday night's Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway that he anticipates the 2011 IndyCar season to end at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The series will officially unveil its 2011 schedule next Friday.
When asked how likely it is 2011 IndyCar season will wrap at his track in Sin City, Smith just laughed.
``How high can the numbers go?'' he said. ``I would be extremely disappointed if that didn't happen.''
The current IndyCar season wraps at Homestead Miami Speedway next month, a place Smith isn't exactly a fan of. He has publicly criticized NASCAR - which also ends its season at Homestead - for not moving its Sprint Cup finale to Vegas.
Smith chastised NASCAR for a lack of promotion of the event and likened the area to ``North Cuba.''
``If you're going to do a championship, you've got to do it at the proper place, and I don't think North Cuba is the proper place,'' Smith said.
Smith said SMI does a better job of promoting racing and isn't sure NASCAR would be swayed if the IndyCar event is a major success.
``I don't know,'' Smith said. ``You'd have to look inside their brain and see.''
If the IndyCar season does end in Vegas, it means SMI will host at least the final two events of the season. The circuit will visit Kentucky in early October.
It's a marked departure from the traditional late-summer IndyCar visit to the track, but Smith isn't worried about the move hurting attendance even if the date is in the middle of football season.
Smith said the later date will allow the track to promote the IndyCar race after NASCAR's first-ever Cup event at the speedway in early July.
The track landed a Cup date after SMI petitioned NASCAR. The company did not make a similar request for a second Las Vegas race. Smith said he didn't think it was worth the time.
``If I thought it was a possibility I would, but I don't see any possibility,'' he said.
Smith added there are no plans to repave Kentucky's 1.5-mile oval before next year's Cup visit. NASCAR Trucks veteran Todd Bodine said following Friday night's race he believed the Cup drivers would have a problem with the historically bumpy circuit.
``The drivers are telling us don't touch it,'' Smith said.
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GRUMPY GRAHAM: Graham Rahal needed a ride and Sarah Fisher needed a driver.
What neither needed, however, was for Rahal to slog the No. 66 car Fisher owns around Kentucky Speedway at relatively pedestrian speeds.
Rahal qualified 25th on Friday - even slower than perennial pack chaser Milka Duno - and things didn't get better on Saturday when he finished 20th.
Not exactly what Rahal had in mind when he agreed to make a cameo for Fisher after signing a deal last month to drive for Newman/Haas Racing.
``The most important thing for me is to keep my career path going forward and this certainly is not going to help me,'' Rahal said.
Yet Rahal did it anyway, mostly as a favor to Fisher, who gave Rahal an opportunity to drive her main car, the No. 67, earlier in the season when Rahal didn't have a job.
``The reason I'm doing this is for the sponsor and for Sarah and I really wanted to help put them in some sort of direction,'' Rahal said. ``Clearly it's just not working.''
Rahal said his father, former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal, told him to sit the week out rather than run at the back. Yet with his status for next season very much up in the air, the younger Rahal figured it was better to be at the track than home watching on TV.
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BRUISED BRISCOE: Defending race winner Ryan Briscoe's night ended early.
The Team Penske driver was collected in a crash with Simona de Silvestro and Vitor Meira collided on lap 80. He suffered a badly bruised foot after making contact with both the outside and the inside wall after coming out of Turn 4.
Briscoe, who entered the night fourth in points behind teammate Will Power, was running ahead of de Silvestro when he saw her go low.
``I was like, 'Why are you doing that?' and I just tired to stay on the gas and miss the accident but unfortunately they touched,'' Briscoe said. ``It was a hard hit and just really disappointing. I think we had real potential to get to the front.''
Briscoe edged Carpenter by 0.0162 seconds in last year's race. X-rays after the wreck revealed no major damage and he expects to be ready for Motegi in two weeks.
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TIGHT FIT FOR T.O.: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens found something that ran faster than teammate Chad Ochocinco's mouth: an IndyCar.
Owens squeezed his 6-foot-3, 223-pound frame into a customized two-seater with former Indy 500 champion Arie Luyendyk just before the green flag flew. The two zipped around the track in front of the field at around 170 mph.
The NFL star, wearing an orange-and-black Bengals racing helmet and blue canvas sneakers, called the short spin around the oval ``the best thing I have done in my life.''
``I asked Arie how fast we were going and he was like, 'Oh, 180 mph,''' Owens said with a shrug of his shoulders. ``You felt like you were kind of sitting still and then you just felt like you took off, like you're in a spaceship or something.''
Owens, who signed a one-year deal with the Bengals in July, made the trip solo but made sure to give a shoutout to Ochocinco on Twitter.
``Holy G-forces Robin!! U R def missing it (at) the KYspeedway,'' Owens tweeted.
 

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