NASCAR is expected to agree to a three-way swap of fall Sprint Cup Series race dates among Auto Club Speedway in California, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway beginning next season, The Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned.
A change of fall race dates between Auto Club Speedway and Atlanta was first proposed in February by Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith, owner of the Atlanta track.
Since adding a second Cup race weekend in 2004, Auto Club Speedway has struggled with attendance at both races. Sizzling summer temperatures on Labor Day weekend in the Los Angeles area haven't helped either.
NASCAR officials and those of Talladega and Auto Club Speedway could not immediately be reached for comment. Marcy Scott, spokeswoman for the Atlanta track, would say only that a move of Atlanta's fall date to Labor Day weekend "has been discussed."
However, no deal is final until sanctioning agreements between NASCAR and the track owners are completed.
NASCAR officials are meeting with SMI officials Friday regarding sanctioning agreements for all of their tracks for the 2009 season.
Under the proposal expected to be accepted by NASCAR, Atlanta's fall date would move to Labor Day weekend in 2009 and the Cup race would take place the Saturday night of that weekend, sources said.
In addition, sources said, Auto Club Speedway's fall date would move into Talladega's slot in the schedule, which is currently the first weekend in October and falls within the Cup series' 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup that decides the championship.
The final part of the swap would move fall Talladega into the fall slot held by Atlanta, which is the fourth weekend of October and also in the Chase, sources said. That move would help benefit those two tracks' ticket sales since they both share a lot of the same customers.