NASCAR track owner Bruton Smith not a fan of Race Team Alliance

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As the leader of Speedway Motorsports Inc. – the entity that owns eight tracks with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series dates – Bruton Smith hasn’t always gotten along with the sanctioning body about the sport’s direction.

But when it comes to the new Race Team Alliance, Smith is happy to stand in NASCAR’s corner.

In an interview with USA Today and NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan, Smith severely criticized the formation of the RTA, which features nine of the Sprint Cup Series’ biggest teams.

The RTA has insisted that they’re not looking to pick a fight with NASCAR over matters such as revenue from the sport’s new TV package (which goes in effect next year with NBC Sports joining Fox as a broadcaster), and is focusing on cutting costs in areas like parts, travel, and insurance for team members.

But apparently, that hasn’t convinced Smith, who believes the RTA is bad news.

“What I know about it, of course I don’t like it,” he said to Ryan after today’s Sprint Cup practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (which is owned by SMI).

“I don’t know anything about it that’s good for what we do. I don’t see anything that’s going to be good for the sport. Nothing.

“What little bit I know about it right now, it seems it will damage the sport. If NASCAR needs us, we’re there with NASCAR on the deal. We’re there every day, every hour, if they need us.”

According to Ryan, Smith even pretended not to know the RTA’s chairman, Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman, in his interview.

Smith’s comments are a stark contrast to those from defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, one of the biggest teams in the RTA.

Johnson said this morning at New Hampshire that he understood the worry from some over the RTA’s formation.

But he also expressed the belief that the RTA can help NASCAR better recognize the collective needs of the teams by having those needs voiced by a single group.

“We will see what the future holds and I feel like there is a positive outcome,” Johnson said. “This is a good thing. I don’t feel like this is going to drive separation or a split, and I don’t even know where that separation or split would take place.”

NASCAR president Mike Helton also said this morning that the sanctioning body’s relationship with the owners has not degenerated into animosity.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).