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Chase goes on for NASCAR Hall of Fame

Source: Charlotte Observer  

November 29, 2005

Now that NASCAR has a champion, racing leaders are ready to focus their attention on the race for the sport's hall of fame. And that competition still has a few laps to go. NASCAR chief executive Brian France said recently that all five competing cities -- Charlotte, Atlanta, Kansas City, Richmond, Va., and Daytona Beach, Fla. -- still have a shot at the shrine, and he dashed expectations that a choice could be announced in the next week. France said he expects negotiations with a city or cities to begin after the holidays and a decision likely will be made in the first quarter of next year.

In other words, forget about a big revelation at NASCAR's postseason banquet Friday in New York, where Tony Stewart will be honored as this year's Nextel Cup champion and the sport will bask in the glow of its growing popularity. Some Atlanta officials speculated this month that their city and Charlotte are the leading contenders for the hall, but they later backtracked and said they don't know where the competition stands. Charlotte leaders are also in the dark. 'NASCAR is playing their cards very close to their vest,' said Luther Cochrane, chairman of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Spokesman Kerry Tharp said NASCAR needs more time to compare proposals.

And officials didn't want to be distracted by the flurry of activity that surrounds the end of racing season. 'You've got a decision that is quite complex and obviously important to the sport,' Tharp said. 'You want to get it right.' The new timeframe means more nail-biting for some cities -- and maybe a chance to get back in the hunt for others.