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Smith wants final race back at AMS

HAMPTON - Bruton Smith wants NASCAR to yank its final race of the season out of south Florida.

Never at a loss for words, the track owner said the championship-deciding race should return to Atlanta Motor Speedway, where it was held through 2001, or Las Vegas Motor Speedway - both facilities he owns.

'Why have the last race of the season at some Godforsaken area just north of Cuba?' he said, referring to Homestead Miami Speedway.

Atlanta's fall race shifted a few weeks earlier in 2002 and this year it moves to an even earlier spot on Labor Day weekend. While plagued by weather issues when held in November, Smith said his track would still be a better location for NASCAR to hold the final race than Homestead.

'If they'll give us our date back,' he said, 'we'll fill up the place again and do something major for the sport. If that doesn't work, put it in Las Vegas. We'll add more seats - and sell out every one of them.'

Smith, who controls Atlanta and six other Sprint Cup tracks through Speedway Motorsports Inc., has long feuded with NASCAR and a related company that owns a majority of the facilities used on the circuit, including Homestead.

'They're not doing anything for the sport,' Smith said of the track south of Miami. 'Wouldn't it be better off holding the race where you can draw 175,000 people?'

NASCAR officials shrugged off Smith's complaints and disputed his claims that attendance was poor, saying last year's race was sold out.

'We think Homestead-Miami is an excellent venue for NASCAR's Ford Championship Weekend,' Jim Hunter, the vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement.