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Editorial: Sprint Cup needs to hold a race in Upper Midwest

Published 9:06am Monday, February 25, 2013

There is no doubt about the love for motorsports in the Upper Midwest. Gearheads are on every block. Tracks dot the map. From speedways to county fairs, auto racing is major summer sport.

Yet the closest the NASCAR Sprint Cup comes to our part of these United States is the Chicagoland Speedway. There are zero Sprint Cup races in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski on Friday got in some hot water for pointing out to USA Today some of the things that hold NASCAR back. The sport is suffering from sagging TV ratings and declining attendance at races. He was right about many points, and wrong about a few.

Among the ones about which he was correct was this:

“We have too many races (36) at too many tracks. We’re at too many tracks repeatedly. I can’t name the races because I’ll be a bad guy if I do, but we need to cut out several tracks that have two races, and we need to go to a couple other tracks.

“We need to go to Iowa. We need to go to build a track in Toronto or Vancouver. I don’t really care about New York.

“In order to do so, we can’t add these races. We have to remove them from those tracks that have two and don’t really deserve it.”

For Iowa, he was talking about the Iowa Speedway in Newton, a track that opened in 2006 and hosts IndyCar racing and lower-level NASCAR-sanctioned races, such as truck racing.

The Sprint Cup needs to come to the Upper Midwest. If the Iowa Speedway is the best track to host, then so be it. Having a race there would make attending a Sprint Cup race a lot more convenient and less costly for local racing fans. Southerners sure have an overabundance of races from which to choose. Perhaps more revenue could be made from spreading the sport around. There’s a model for it: Pro sports for football, baseball, basketball and hockey have all shifted to new parts of the country over the years to garner larger audiences. It’s high time NASCAR does the same.

We thank Keselowski for voicing his opinion and shedding light on subjects that NASCAR officials seem wary to discuss publicly.