DARLINGTON, S.C. NASCAR officials say they're still working on next year's racing schedule. If they need any help, all they have to do is check with each of the individual speedways.
Although the sanctioning body said the schedule hasn't been finalized, the tracks have been given enough information to start selling tickets. By calling the raceways, the 2004 Nextel Cup Series looks a lot like this year's Winston Cup Series schedule. The only twists are the announced changes involving California Speedway, Darlington Raceway and North Carolina Speedway.
According to Daytona International Speedway's Web site, the season will start Feb. 7 with the Budweiser Shootout all-star race. The first official race is the Daytona 500 on Feb. 15.
There are four open dates in 2004 because there is an extra weekend created by leap year. The season will start before Valentine's Day and end the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the only weekends the sport takes off will be on Feb. 29, April 11, May 9 and July 11.
The Southern 500, a Labor Day weekend staple at Darlington since 1950, will move to Nov. 14. Darlington's Labor Day slot will go to California, and Darlington will move into a date lost by the North Carolina Speedway.
TRAC FOLDS: The Team Racing Auto Circuit, a racing series that already had deals with Speedway Motorsports Inc., facilities and ESPN, folded before it ever ran a lap. The racing organization was to compete against NASCAR with race teams that represent different cities.
'' The company's business plan provided that its ability to continue to pursue the creation of a racing league and begin racing in May 2004 would depend on its successfully selling operating rights for six teams and sufficient league sponsorship packages by September 30, 2003,'' TRAC released through its Web site. ''Following extensive and ongoing discussions between management and the company's various consultants, the company's board of directors has concluded that such sales are not possible within the necessary time period.''
PIT STOPS: Buckshot Jones will drive a car from the Michael Waltrip Racing shops in the Oct. 26 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mike Wallace will drive six races this year in the No. 09 Miccosukee Indian Gaming Dodge for car owner James Finch.
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