Kansas Speedway lands NASCAR Sprint Cup night race in 2014

Kansas Speedway finally got its wish.

NASCAR has awarded Kansas Speedway two night races for 2014, including the Sprint Cup race on Saturday night, May 10.

In addition to the Kansas 400 Sprint Cup Series race on the night before Mothers Day, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series SFP 250 will run under the lights on Friday night, May 9.

The 2014 fall weekend races will be run during the day, with the Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 set for Saturday, Oct. 4, and the Hollywood Casino 400 Sprint Cup race — the fourth event in the Chase for the Sprint Cup — on Sunday, Oct. 5.

Kansas Speedway officials have been lobbying NASCAR to bring night racing to the track since the lights were installed in 2010 and the track was awarded a second Sprint Cup race that year.

“We put lights in for a reason,” Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren said. “We’ve been successful with the two ARCA races we’ve had at night in the fall, and we’re excited to have the Sprint Cup race under the lights in warmer weather.

“Fans continually ask me about a night race and I know that we will have tremendous support from our fans throughout the Midwest for our first Sprint Cup Series night race. A Sprint Cup night race is something Kansas City fans can compare to having a Monday night football game at Arrowhead Stadium.”

To accommodate Kansas Speedway, fellow International Speedway Corporation track Darlington Raceway agreed to switch its traditional Mothers Day weekend race with the April date Kansas has occupied in the previous three years.

Kansas Speedway wanted to race in the late spring, when its warmer than in April but not as hot as it was when the track held races during July 4 weekend in its first five years. Darlington Raceway president Chip Wile said the average temperature in Darlington during April is a more comfortable 75 degrees compared to 81 in May.

The switch also helps Darlington because it provides some separation on the calendar from races in May at nearby Richmond and Charlotte.

“The challenges they’ve always faced is you had the Richmond race, then the Darlington race, and two weekends in Charlotte with the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600, and all those were on top of each other,” said Chris Schwartz, Kansas Speedway vice president of sales and marketing. “There are a lot of NASCAR fans in that region who had to pick and choose between which events to go to in a small window of time.

“Going a little earlier from their perspective will be a good thing.”

In addition to the NASCAR weekends, International Motor Sports Association Road Racing will return for the second year to the infield road course at Kansas Speedway on June 7 with the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series, Cooper Tire Prototype Lights and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.

Times for those races have not been determined.