The California Speedway will continue to stage two Nextel Cup races a year even though the races have not been sellouts, NASCAR Chairman Brian France said Wednesday.
"I cannot envision a scenario" in which either of the races -- held in late February and on Labor Day weekend in September -- would be dropped from NASCAR's schedule, France said.
The Fontana speedway typically draws more than 100,000 spectators overall when infield attendance is included. But not all of the track's 92,000 grandstand seats have been filled, raising questions about whether Southern California can support two Cup races a year.
The track's owner, International Speedway Corp., also said last week that "overall results" for the Labor Day race "fell below expectations," although attendance was higher than the spring race. The company operates 11 tracks overall.
But France said attendance continues to build at California Speedway, and that "we need to be in that market twice" a year.
There have been other signs that NASCAR's enormous popularity is bumping against its limits. Its television ratings for certain races have dropped this year, and other events on the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule races also have not been sellouts.
International Speedway also said attendance-related revenue at the June and August races at Michigan International Speedway, and at the July race at Daytona International Speedway, were below expectations and contributed to a 7% decline in its fiscal third-quarter profit.
The company blamed poor weather and weak economic conditions for the declines, along with high gasoline prices nationwide this summer.
Referring to the subsequent drop in pump prices, France said that "fortunately they're going the right way and we're seeing almost an immediate, direct benefit."
"We're very pleased with attendance and where it's going, and we're not concerned at all about it," he said.