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NASCAR postpones race until November

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NASCAR president Mike Helton postponed Sunday's Winston Cup race in New Hampshire because it was "simply the right thing to do."

The decision on the New Hampshire 300 followed a move by the NFL to scrap games Sunday and Monday night. The race was rescheduled for Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving.

It is only the second non-weather postponement in the stock car circuit's 53-year history.

"This is a time for families to come together," Helton said Thursday. "We felt that postponing this weekend's race was simply the right thing to do."

NASCAR also called off its truck race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, rescheduling it for Oct. 5. The Indy Racing League, whose season-ending race was scheduled for the Texas track on Sunday, postponed the event until Oct. 6.

Two other weekend races at the New Hampshire International Speedway, in the Featherlite Modified Series and Busch North Series, also were postponed. It was unclear whether they would be rescheduled.

"We hated to cancel, but at the same time you have to think of the people, all the problems they have in New York," said Bob Bahre, whose family owns the New Hampshire track. "I think all our fans will understand, and we'll honor all their tickets."

Besides weather postponements, the only other time NASCAR called off a Winston Cup race was in 1998. The Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway that year was postponed from July until October because of forest fires in central Florida.

About 4,000 fans in mobile homes arrived at the New Hampshire speedway before the postponement, some of them as early as last Saturday. The race, the second of the season at the 1-mile oval, attracts about 100,000 fans.

Track workers and vendors had been setting up for the weekend, and the NASCAR officials' truck also had arrived.

None of the drivers for the three races traveled to the track because Thursday's practices were already called off and the Winston Cup qualifying, scheduled for Friday, was canceled. NASCAR had released a race lineup based on 2001 car owner points.

Dale Jarrett, who won the July Cup race in New Hampshire, said, "I am really glad NASCAR did the right thing. Our team all felt like we did not need to be out trying to entertain anyone this weekend, and our sport is a form of entertainment.

"I'm proud that NASCAR made the right decision. This allows our NASCAR community to be at home with our families during this very difficult time."

The NFL postponed its 15 Sunday games earlier in the day, and Bahre said that played a role in NASCAR's decision. All major professional and college sports were called off through the weekend.

"If football and a few other things had gone along, I think we would have gone along," Bahre said.

"At this time, I don't think of dollars; I think about what's right. It's the right thing to do."

The race on Nov. 23 replaces the NAPA 500 on Nov. 18 at Atlanta Motor Speedway as the season-finale, and could decide the series title. Three-time champion Jeff Gordon holds a 222-point lead over runner-up Ricky Rudd with 10 races remaining.