NASCAR brings it's brand to Tucson Speedway - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

NASCAR brings it's brand to Tucson Speedway

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Anyone who has been in Tucson any length of time knows that 3/8ths mile oval on the Southeast side of town has a long, storied and sometimes controversial history.

Now named Tucson Speedway, under new ownership and as of today, home of the NASCAR brand.

The folks from Daytona Beach flew into Tucson today to make the announcement.

"It's a monumental moment," said Bob DuVall, a senior director of NASCAR. "It signals anew beginning for a historic track."

New beginning because Tucson Speedway had been the home of NASCAR in the recant past.

It had also been the home of a nationally televised racing series, NASCAR's "Winter Heat" during the 1990's.

In recent years it had fallen into disrepair and tarnished a once respected reputation.

Enter John Lashley.

Two years ago he began the painstaking effort of rebuilding and rebranding the track.

The announcement by NASCAR means the track has taken the checkered flag and victory can be declared.

"We're proud of what we've been able to accomplish," Lashley says.

Getting the NASCAR brand does not mean the big boys like Jeff Gordon will be here.

No, it will be more about the up and comers.

Like 19 year old Mariah McGriff.

She started racing in the kart series when she was 13 years old and won 17 of her 34 starts.

Now she's graduating to the Super Late Models.

"I love it, I always have," she says. "People ask me if I'm scared to go 105 miles an hour.

She says she so busy paying attention to her driving that she doesn't realize how fast she's going.

She says she's happy to be "part of the family."

And in large part, that's what NASCAR is all about.

"NASCAR is a family owned business still today," DuVall says.

Tucson becomes the 58th track to be part of that family.

"Having Tucson Speedway back into that relationship is so important to us," he says.

The first NASCAR sanctioned events start in July.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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