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ISC 'laser-focused' on Phoenix, Richmond enhancements

Lesa France Kennedy

RELATED: Kennedy inducted to Cynopsis Sports Hall of Fame

With the Daytona Rising project's transition to gleaming motorsports stadium reaching completion this year, International Speedway Corporation's next initiative aims to bring similar enhancements to other tracks in its portfolio.

Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of ISC, revealed during NASCAR's preseason media tour that two tracks in particular -- Phoenix International Raceway and Richmond International Raceway -- were targeted for comparable improvements. Speaking Thursday after her induction into the Cynopsis Sports Hall of Fame in New York, Kennedy provided updates on the two tracks, which both host two annual events for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"We're continuing to look at both Phoenix and Richmond," Kennedy told NASCAR.com. "They're terrific markets, first of all, and also facilities that I think would really benefit to take it to the next level with some of the features that we saw at Daytona Rising that worked well and that our fans enjoyed. We're continuing to work on the plans. As you know, sometimes it takes several years to develop the plans and then to go through the construction process, but we're deep in the middle of it with both of those. We'll look forward to those plans rolling out."

Daytona International Speedway's transformation spanned approximately two and a half years from the Rising project's groundbreaking in July 2013 to its full-fledged debut at Speedweeks in January and February. Kennedy said no specific timetable was in place for plans at Phoenix or Richmond.

"We're very active right now," Kennedy said. "We've been looking at both of those tracks, but also all of our tracks. Those are the two that we're laser-focused on right now."

RELATED: Daytona rises even higher from beach sand

Among other ISC updates provided Thursday:

-- Kennedy said that the selection process for a new track president at Darlington Raceway was nearing completion. The vacancy at the historic South Carolina track was created in April, when Chip Wile was named to the same post at Daytona International Speedway. Wile replaced Joie Chitwood III, who was promoted to Chief Operating Officer at ISC.

Wile's nearly three-year tenure helped rejuvenate the 1.366-mile track with a signature feature, the nostalgic NASCAR Throwback weekend. Darlington also returned to its traditional Labor Day place on the Sprint Cup schedule in 2015.

"Darlington has such a great heritage, so it is important to find the right fit and the right person," Kennedy said. "I think it's so important, too, for that person to have great industry relationships. We'll have an announcement here, I'd say in the very, very short run about our selection, so that should come out very soon."

-- Ahead of February's Daytona 500 and surrounding events, Chitwood -- then Daytona's track president -- estimated that the Daytona Rising project was at 98 percent completion for Speedweeks. Regarding that last 2 percent, Kennedy said that the final touches for the 2.5-mile track's enhancements were in place for Daytona's second Sprint Cup race of the season.

"Joie's a hard-charging individual and he would always be at 98 percent because he continues to push us on those final details to the end," Kennedy said with a laugh, "but it's going to be in great shape and we're ready to kick off the Coke Zero 400 on July 2 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). I feel like everything is ready to go."

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