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Phoenix official says they’re evaluating upgrade options for track 500

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 15: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/ Budweiser Chevrolet, leads the field to a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 15, 2015 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Bryan Sperber, president of Phoenix International Raceway, told NBC Sports Friday that any talk about the track flip-flopping the frontstretch and backstretch is “all speculation at this point.’’

International Speedway Corp., which owns the track, had no comment on a Fox Sports 1 broadcaster saying that the “rumor” is the company will flip the frontstretch and backstretch at Phoenix.

During Friday’s broadcast of Sprint Cup practice on Fox Sports 1, broadcaster Mike Joy said: “The rumor now is that ISC is going to take and flip-flop this track as has been done at Atlanta and Darlington and the reason is that these (frontstretch) seats face South, which means you are sun-baked all day long, so there’s a possibility of making this (Joy drew on the screen along the backstretch) the frontstretch with new seats and suites.’’

Sperber told NBC Sports: “It’s no secret that we’ve been looking at upgrading PIR in general, and we’re starting to put plans together now, but it’s a long, way away from making any kind of announcement.’’

Sperber said they’re putting together a list of possible changes and examining prices for the projects.

“We’re evaluating a lot of different options,’’ he said.

It comes as International Speedway Corp. completed a $400 million renovation of Daytona International Speedway before last month’s Daytona 500.

Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corp. and Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors for both ISC and NASCAR, said in January that Phoenix and Richmond International Raceway “will probably be some of the next tracks that we look at. We’re always improving tracks across our portfolio, but those are great markets that we need to look at, and also great racing experiences.’’

ISC had Phoenix repaved in 2011 between its two races.

Kennedy said in 2012 “we are aware we have to notch (Phoenix International Raceway) up,’’ according to The Arizona Republic.

Richmond will have fewer seats for its upcoming race with the removal of backstretch seats. ISC lists Richmond’s capacity as 59,000 in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Grandstand seating capacity at Phoenix is listed as 51,000.

Only Homestead-Miami Speedway (46,000) and Watkins Glen International (33,000) have fewer seats than Phoenix among ISC tracks that host Sprint Cup races, according to the company’s 10-K report.

Dan Beaver contributed to this report in Phoenix.

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