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France: NASCAR would consider race at Austin F1 layout

October 09, 2011, David Caraviello,

Road course would be in Austin, Texas; CEO also optimistic for Montreal's future

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- NASCAR racing on the Formula 1 road course being constructed in Austin, Texas? It's a possibility, series chairman Brian France said Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

"There's a new facility on the horizon, if you believe what is being written about, which is down in Texas, with a big road course," France said in one of his occasional briefings with reporters. "We have some road-racing products that might be possible, too. Yeah, we'll take a look at that for sure."

The Circuit of the Americas is a $300 million project that, despite a somewhat halting development history, is tentatively slated to debut on the F1 circuit next year. France said any potential NASCAR event on the 3.4-mile circuit would not be in tandem with F1, and would not be Sprint Cup. That opens the door to possible Nationwide or Camping World Truck series races, or even the Grand-Am circuit, which NASCAR operates.

"We are having conversations," France said. "We have conversations at one level or another with all major motorsports facilities, and they're no different. And remember we've got Grand American Road Racing. We're arguably the best road-racing product in this country, when you look at how these events play out at [Sonoma], Watkins Glen. By all account, there's not a better road-course show in this country, for sure. Now that said, obviously we're not talking Cup. [It's] full, and all those things. We're not having those conversations. But we have a lot of motorsports products, and we are speaking to them."

France also added that he expects NASCAR to return to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, the immensely popular Canadian venue where the Nationwide cars have competed the past five years. The future of that race has been in jeopardy because of funding issues, but France sounded positive when asked if the Nationwide tour would return.

"I believe it will," he said. "There's some changes going on in the marketplace with the promoter and otherwise that are happening. ... It's a very popular event, it does very well, and my hope is it will continue to be there."

Although sponsorship struggles continue to take their toll on race teams, particularly in the Nationwide and Truck circuits, France said he was happy with the way 2011 has progressed , given the drama stemming from the addition of wild cards to the Chase and increased television ratings in sought-after demographics.

"I'm not sure we could be more pleased with how the Chase is unfolding," he said, "and frankly, how the season is unfolding."