FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR will use a rare Saturday qualifying schedule for Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Even more rare is that the Nationwide Series race was on Friday night on a weekend when the Cup race is scheduled for Sunday.
Who’s to blame for all this? College basketball.
The NCAA men’s basketball Final Four is in nearby Arlington with the semifinal games starting at 6:09 p.m. ET Saturday night and the championship Monday night.
Typically, Texas has its spring race on Saturday night but it didn’t want to go up against the Final Four. There also is a hope that some basketball fans, looking for something to do on Sunday, will decide that the NASCAR race would make it a rare double-sport weekend.
The track plans to return to its traditional Cup race on Saturday night next year.
TMS President Eddie Gossage hopes the Final Four and the unique race schedule might lead to an increase in ticket sales.
“I can’t tell you anything about tickets (yet), but I can tell you we sold some suites to corporate clients that have suites that also have customers, clients, prospects they’re bringing in for the Final Four and need more hospitality, so in that regard, it has done something for our business,” Gossage said.
The track has advertised in cities with teams in the Final Four, including in online publications and websites that focus on fans of Wisconsin, Florida, Connecticut and Kentucky. They also used Kentucky Speedway’s email list to send a reminder to fans who might be coming to the Final Four that tickets are available.
The track is anticipating a larger walk-up crowd than usual on Sunday.
“I don’t know if a fan called from Connecticut, I don’t now if we would know (if they came for the game) — that would be hard to track,” Gossage said. “(Walk-up) is so affected by weather. … So I don’t now (the impact) yet. We have our fingers crossed.”