Phoenix International Raceway’s lineup won’t include an Indy Racing League event next season, but there are two NASCAR weekends on the bill, along with the grass-roots racing Copper World Classic and a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series event.
For NASCAR fans, the good news is that the Avondale mile oval will maintain its position as host of the second-to -last NASCAR Nextel Cup race in November 2006.
"It’s tremendous because we’re the only West Coast race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship, and so folks that live in the West who want to see NASCAR’s version of the playoffs — this is the only place to be," track president Bryan R. Sperber said.
PIR’s 2006 schedule kicks off in late January — track officials are still working to secure a specific date — with the Copper World Classic, which features sprint cars from the USAC Silver Crown and Midget series, along with stock cars from the NASCAR West and Southwest series.
NASCAR rolls into PIR April 20-22, headlined by the Nextel Cup Subway Fresh 500, a Saturday night race. The Busch Series’ Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 and the West Series’ Phoenix 150 round out the weekend’s racing card.
The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will return to PIR to run under the lights on the road course, but a 2006 date has yet to be announced.
PIR’s season concludes with a four-day NASCAR event Nov. 9-12.
The Southwest Series returns as a support race and the Craftsman Truck Series Chevy Silverado 150 becomes a night race (Nov. 10) for the first time.
PIR is looking for a sponsor for the Nov. 11 Busch Series race, which will run during the daytime. The race’s former sponsor, Chandler-based Bashas’, shifts over to support PIR’s spring Busch race.
The Checker Auto Parts 500 also is scheduled for an afternoon start on Nov. 12.
The 500 had been the thirdto-last date on the Nextel Cup schedule until this season, when it switches to the second-to-last slot. And, at least for one more year in ’06, the race will hold its position in the Chase for the Championship.
The late Chase date, which Sperber likens to a championship semifinal, adds more significance to the race.
"Who knows? Maybe we’ll crown a champion," he said.