By JENNA FRYER, Associated Press
NASCAR will not race in Montreal next season after the promoter pulled the plug on the six-year relationship when he couldn't secure a premiere Sprint Cup Series event.
The official announcement Friday by promoter Francois Dumontier ended a surprising turn of events for NASCAR, which wanted to continue running the Nationwide Series at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
"NASCAR was preparing to return for 2013, however we were unable to come to an agreement," NASCAR said in a statement.
Dumontier said he needed a Sprint Cup event to make the Montreal race profitable.
"It was a very difficult decision to make. Year after year, with great enthusiasm, our team has invested itself, body and soul, in order to make a success of this NASCAR weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve," he said. "But under the previous management and our own in 2012, the event remained non profitable, therefore we had to be realistic and conclude that the NASCAR main event on our weekend program doesn't have the kind of appeal that could generate the requested revenues."
Dumontier is head of Octane Management, which also promotes Formula One's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. The group also ran the IndyCar race at Edmonton, but declined to continue that event next season. Octane filed for bankruptcy Sept. 24 and a creditor's list shows debts over $5 million.
Dumontier recently informed NASCAR he was only interested in hosting a Sprint Cup Series race, and if Nationwide was his only option, he wanted to run the event at 9 a.m. on a Sunday.
The demands derailed an agreement that NASCAR thought it already had in place for a 2013 race.
"I must admit that NASCAR's final answer is extremely disappointing. We can understand how difficult it could be to modify the Sprint Cup schedule, but we still believe that we deserved higher consideration," Dumontier said. "Especially since we have often been told that the annual Montreal event was very important to NASCAR. We remain convinced that the presence of the Sprint Cup at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would have brought a much larger crowd, as our track usually generates a spectacular race and with its anticipated success, would have offered a larger recognition at the international level to the series and to NASCAR."
The event in Montreal was one of the most popular of the season in the second-tier Nationwide Series, and its events were considered among the most exciting on the schedule. It also created opportunities for Canadian drivers — Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani and Ron Fellows — to compete in a national NASCAR series.
"NASCAR appreciates the support and enthusiasm the great fans of Montreal have shown during our six years of exciting racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It's been a great run for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at this historic venue," NASCAR said.
NASCAR hopes to still be race in Canada next season, possibly with the Truck Series. One potential venue for NASCAR is Mosport International Raceway in Toronto. The track is co-owned by Fellows, the popular veteran who won Montreal's NAPA 200 in 2008.
NASCAR also plans to fill the void left by Montreal in its 33-race schedule, which has yet to be announced. NASCAR's preference is to explore new markets where it's not currently sanctioning national series events, and is leaning toward a road course race. Potential venues include Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta.
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