Should NASCAR Move Second Charlotte Race to Las Vegas?

By Joseph Wolkin
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Owning the Speedway Motorsports Incorporated can’t be easy. Just ask Bruton Smith, the man that actually does own it, he’ll tell you all about it.

Well, Smith, who is 86, may be becoming a little delirious in the minds of some NASCAR fans. The Bank of America 500, which has been held during the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup annually for several years at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, may be moved to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

According to an interview with WBTV, Smith is actually considering getting rid of the second Charlotte race. It would be a wise move for SMI, which has been losing money over the past few years. The ratings for the Las Vegas race, which is the third race of the year for the past few years, is approximately two million more viewers than that of the October race at Charlotte. Of course, the Chase races haven’t had such a high viewership over the past few years since it competes with the MLB Playoffs and then all of the hype of the start to the NBA season in November.

However, would fans like to see the move? Well, the rumor has been around for several years. It’s always been a possibility. Who would think the Atlanta Motor Speedway, one of the most competitive in NASCAR, would lose a race? That track used to be the final one of NASCAR’s schedule until the Homestead-Miami Speedway came along. The track had two races since 1960, but that all ended in 2011 as they replaced that track with another SMI track, Kentucky Speedway. A lot of fans haven’t liked that move since there aren’t many wrecks on that track, especially after what happened with the traffic jam in the inaugural race.

The move wouldn’t be good for teams though. Sure, Las Vegas is all about having a good time. However, the week before the fall race at Charlotte is Talladega and after that is Kansas. The teams would have to go through extensive work just to get all the way to Las Vegas. Though Smith is in a gruesome duel with Cabarrus County for $20 million, it would be wise to keep the race at Charlotte.

Think about it for a minute. Most of the NASCAR teams are located within a few miles of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s one of the few races that the crew guys at the shop can take a load off at the races, especially during the most intense 10-week stretch that NASCAR has. It also saves expenses for the teams, especially for those just struggling to make it to the track each week. The teams won’t have to pay for hotels for the crews like they always do since everyone lives by the track, which can save thousands of dollars.

Overall, it may not be the best of decisions for SMI to move the race to Las Vegas. Sure, the racing is great at that track as is every other track, but this sport is about the fans and they have to give the fans what they want. Maybe NASCAR should send out an industry-wide survey and have every fan that wants to be included in the decision to do so. Hey, maybe Bruton will give Atlanta back their second race. Who knows what will happen? NASCAR is far from predictable.

Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.

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