SportsAuto Racing


NASCAR grants Iowa Speedway a Cup Series race. Will it impact Kansas Speedway?

NASCAR Kansas Auto Racing
Posted at 2:19 PM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-04 15:53:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — NASCAR is adding a new Cup Series race in the Midwest next year.

The stock-car racing governing body announced Tuesday that it will bring its first-ever Cup Series race to Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, outside Des Moines on Sunday, June 16.

NASCAR also will bring an Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series races to Iowa Speedway that weekend.

“This is a dream come true,” NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, who co-founded and designed Iowa Speedway, said in a statement. “This track was built with the intent of hosting a NASCAR Cup Series race one day, and to finally see it come together is a testament to the tenacity of the great race fans in Iowa.”

The 7/8-mile racetrack staged Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series races from 2009 to 2019 and the ARCA Menard’s Series has staged races there in 17 of 18 seasons since opening in 2006, but it’s never hosted a Cup Series race.

“For years, the Iowa community has patiently waited for the NASCAR Cup Series to come to town,” NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski. “It is with great pleasure for all of the racing community to announce they will finally see that dream come together. Iowa truly is a hotbed for motorsports fans, I saw that enthusiasm firsthand in 2009 for the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race, and can’t wait to see the atmosphere on race day in 2024.”

Iowa Corn will serve as the title sponsor for the Cup Series race.

“Today’s announcement is an exciting one for NASCAR and for race fans in the state of Iowa,” NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Development and Strategy Ben Kennedy said in a statement. “They have long sought a NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway, and we’re happy to deliver that for them. We fully expect this to be one of the most highly-anticipated dates on the 2024 schedule and an amazing weekend of NASCAR racing in The Hawkeye State.”

To accommodate the addition of Iowa Speedway to the Cup Series schedule, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, had to sign off on a change to its development agreement.

That original agreement, which started in 1998, included a non-compete clause, which barred NASCAR from placing Cup Series within 250 miles of Kansas Speedway.

World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis was the only track exempted from that clause.

Under the amended agreement, which the Unified Government Board of Commissioners unanimously passed at its Sept. 14 meeting after fast tracking it through a special session earlier that evening, Iowa Speedway also received an exemption.

Kansas Speedway President Pat Warren spoke at the Sept. 14 meeting, where commissioners raised the specter that adding a race at Iowa Speedway might mean removing one of two races at Kansas Speedway from the Cup Series schedule.

“It’s a fair question to ask, but I’m not aware of any discussions about moving a date from here to Iowa,” Warren said. “I don’t think that’s contemplated by our leadership or, if it is, I haven’t been told. ... I seriously doubt any of those races are going to come from Kansas. There’s no intention to move a date from here to there.”

Before NASCAR could announce a Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway, it had to secure the amendment from the Unified Government.

International Speedway Corporation — which built, owned and operated Kansas Speedway — merged with NASCAR in 2019.

Six years earlier, NASCAR had purchased Iowa Speedway after its developer faltered.

Warren reassured the committee during the special session and ahead of the vote before the full commission that he didn’t believe the addition of Iowa Speedway to the Cup Series schedule would be to the detriment of Kansas Speedway.

Warren said the France family has “lived up to each and every obligation, each and every promise that we’ve made” since the track was built, testifying that he was not aware of any plans to remove the spring race at Kansas Speedway from the Cup Series schedule.

“It’s my understanding that we’re trying to release the 2024 schedule in the very near future and action tonight will impact that schedule,” Warren said.

The 1 1/2-mile tri-oval in KCK has hosted a fall Cup Series race since it opened in 2001 and has hosted a second race each spring every year since 2011.

While nothing has been guaranteed publicly, Kansas Speedway seems unlikely to lose one of its two Cup Series races for the 2024 season.

“Kansas Speedway, one of the nation’s most popular and competitive racetracks, continues to be a foundational part of the NASCAR schedule,” Kansas Speedway said in a statement. “We look forward to announcing our 2024 NASCAR dates soon.”

If anything, the amendment adds to Kansas Speedway’s commitment to seek a second race each season.

“We’re not changing anything in that regard and, in fact, we’re adding the second race as an additional commitment as part of this request on the Iowa Speedway exemption from the non-compete,” Warren said.

The amendment to add an exemption from the 250-mile non-compete radius for Iowa Speedway also included language that Kansas Speedway promises “to continue to exercise good faith and commercially reasonable efforts ... to secure no less than two (2) NASCAR Cup Series” races annually.

Warren said attendance for NASCAR race weekends at Kansas Speedway had been falling before the COVID-19 pandemic, but attendance has rallied in recent years and is growing again.

Tickets for the June 2024 race aren’t on sale yet, but NASCAR fans can place a $25 deposit for priority access when tickets do go on sale.