During Ricky Craven’s 278-race NASCAR career, New Hampshire Motor Speedway was always a special destination for the Newburgh native and Hampden Academy graduate.
He considered it his home track and he was always well-received by the New England fans.
So the news last week that New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon was losing one of its two Monster Energy Cup races to Las Vegas Motor Speedway struck a sour chord for Craven, who is now in his 11th year as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN.
The change will go into effect next season as the September race will move to Las Vegas, with the July race remaining on the NHMS schedule.
“On a personal level, it’s very disappointing,” said Craven. “It was my home course and I always associated the track with great memories.
“The business side of me understands it. The bottom line to every business is that the numbers have to add up,” said Craven.
According to a story in the Concord Monitor, the Cup races at Loudon haven’t been selling out in recent years after several years of doing so.
An Associated Press story said a Southern New Hampshire University study in 2011 revealed that the two races at NHMS produced an added $179 million in spending and $103 million in income to the region and generated 2,500 jobs, including 1,500 part-time jobs at NHMS.
The September race has been one of the events during the 10-race Chase for the Championship.
NHMS has hosted two races every year since 1996. NHMS and Las Vegas Motor Speedway are both owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Craven also has mixed feelings about the new points format in the Monster Energy Series this season.
For the first time, each points race has three stages and drivers will receive points based on their position after each of the stages. Drivers in the top 10 after each of the first two stages will receive points with the leader earning 10 points down to the 10th-place finisher, who will receive one.
Those points will be added to what the drivers receive after the final stage.
“I’m open-minded to it. It has certainly given people something to talk about,” said Craven on Friday. “But Kevin Harvick is currently leading the points standings and he has finished 22nd and ninth in the first two races. That’s really difficult to explain.”
Harvick had won three stages good for 30 of his 90 overall points going into the Las Vegas race, during which one of his tires blew and he crashed.