Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rockingham Speedway will not host NASCAR Trucks race in 2014

   Rockingham Speedway, which began hosting NASCAR races again two years ago after an eight-year absence, will not host a Truck Series race in 2014, speedway owner Andy Hillenburg confirmed.

   The 1-mile track located about 90 miles southeast of Charlotte remains open for track rentals but won’t be hosting any NASCAR events in 2014.

   “We’ve got a number of issues that have to be resolved before we can host races again,” Hillenburg told The Observer on Thursday. “These issues have been mounting over the last two to three years.

   “I’m not giving up on this. My plan is to keep doing it. I want it and NASCAR wants it and I’m determined to have it continue.”

   NASCAR is expected to release its 2014 Truck schedule as early as Monday – the last of its three national series scheduled to be released.

   NASCAR spokesman David Higdon would not speak specifically about Rockingham’s date but said the schedule would be released soon. “We are still finalizing a few last pieces,” he said.

   Rockingham already lost one NASCAR event this season.

   In September, NASCAR officials canceled a K&N Pro Series East race at the track. In a statement announcing the decision, NASCAR said the track failed to meet its financial obligations.

   A permanent loss of the NASCAR event could have serious consequences for the surrounding community.

   When plans for the inaugural Truck race were first unveiled in 2011, city and county officials said the race would bring $4.2 million into the local economy.

   The first race in 2012, won by Kasey Kahne, was considered a success with a near capacity crowd on hand. Attendance was down at this year’s race, won by Kyle Larson, but the venue was still considered to have a home on the series schedule.

   From 1965 through 2004 Rockingham Speedway hosted races in NASCAR’s premier Cup series.

   Hillenburg bought the track in 2007 from Speedway Motorsports Inc., which bought the facility from the International Speedway Corp. in 2004. SMI moved the Cup race from Rockingham to Texas as part of a settlement in an SMI shareholder lawsuit, leaving the track void of NASCAR events.

   “This has been six years of my life and I want to see it succeed,” Hillenburg said.

Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan team up to go .... NASCAR Truckin'

   The Jordan Brand's iconic Jumpman logo will adorn the No. 51 Toyota Tundra of Denny Hamlin this Saturday as he races for his third-straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Hamlin is the two-time defending winner of the Kroger 200 race at Martinsville.

    Hamlin began a relationship with the Jordan Brand in 2011 and wears a Jumpman firesuit and racing gloves.

    "To have the Jumpman on the truck at Martinsville is the perfect fit," said Virginia-native Hamlin, a season ticket holder of Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats NBA franchise. "Michael has expressed interest in taking the next step with their Jordan Brand sponsorship, so what better opportunity than going after three in a row at one of my favorite tracks."

    While this NASCAR race marks the first-ever primary car or truck sponsorship for the Jordan Brand, the shoe and apparel company has a long track-record of supporting Michael Jordan Motorsports, a motorcycle racing team founded by Jordan in 2004 that competes in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship series.