| ||LinkBack||Thread Tools|
Busch race coming to Montreal
It's official: Busch is now waaaay more sophisticated than Cup.
© The Canadian Press, 2006
NASCAR confirmed Monday that it will hold a Busch Series race Aug. 4 at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
The stock car series announced last week that it would put the Montreal event on its 35-race 2007 schedule, but organizers delayed the official announcement until all details were resolved.
NASCAR chief executive officer Brian France confirmed the date with local promoters at a media conference.
"It is a great setting, well-organized, and we're excited to be here next August," France said. "Getting everything right on both ends was difficult, but we got the right outcome."
The Busch Series cars, one level below the top-ranked Nextel Cup series, will race on the 4.361-kilometre road track that plays host to the hugely successful Canadian Grand Prix Formula One event.
It has knocked the Champ Car World Series off the track after five years in Montreal, through that circuit has already lined up the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in St-Jovite, Que., 140 kilometres north of Montreal, for a race on July 1.
NASCAR has eyed a move to Canada in recent years after having already staged Busch series events in Mexico.
"I would expect the Canadian drivers to be better than the American drivers because they know the circuit," Busch driver Kenny Wallace said. "When we went to Mexico, it was hard to keep up with the Mexican drivers, so I look forward to a Canadian driver winning if I cannot win."
The Busch Series often draws several drivers from the Nextel Cup to its events, but it will be tougher for star drivers to make the trip next summer.
The Montreal race will be held one day before the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, more than 600 kilometres away in Long Pond, Pa.
France said he expects several star pilots to make the trip to help ensure its success and to experience a new race on an F-1 track, which will need work to lengthen the paddock and pit lane to accommodate 43 Busch cars - more than double the grid in Formula One.
There may be other familiar faces on the starting grid as well.
Former F-1 star Juan Pablo Montoya has joined the Ganassi NASCAR team and former F-1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve of Iberville, Que., is reportedly in negotiations to race stock cars for Ford.
Villeneuve was recently dropped by the Sauber F-1 team.
NASCAR more appealing
Normand Legault, promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix, hopes stock cars will be a better draw than Champ Car. Its attendance dwindled from 172,000 in its first race weekend in Montreal in 2002 to 93,755 in 2005, before rebounding to 110,030 this year.
The F-1 race regularly draws more than 300,000 for three days of racing at much higher ticket prices.
In June, the municipal government gave Legault's company exclusive rights to hold two race weekends per year at the track.
He elected to drop Champ Car for the Busch Series.
He had already given up promoting the Champ Car event.
Only two events per year can be held at the track because it is in a busy city park close to downtown and noise is a factor for nearby residents.
Montreal will replace a Busch race in Martinsville, Va.
Busch race coming to Montreal
Nascar is making a mistake going to Montreal. They are lousy sports fans and will only support hockey and "european type things" i.e. f1. The Busch race may be a success but only because of all the people that drive in from upper state New York and Toronto. There will be few fans there from Quebec.