NASCAR chairman France not ready to add Kentucky to Cup schedule

Updated: May 27, 2008, 6:14 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR isn't as anxious to put a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway as Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith is.

"It's not a market that we've said is highly desirable," NASCAR chairman Brian France said before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "It's well served.

"We'll look at things as we get down the road, but right now he doesn't own it and we've got to deal with the owners that do have it and we have Nationwide events and Truck races, so we're working on that with them right now."

Smith has agreed to purchase Kentucky Speedway with the contention that he can get a Sprint Cup date for the 1.5-mile track that he went so far as to file a lawsuit against International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR to get a date.

He said on Thursday he wanted a date for 2009, something NASCAR says won't happen. He has 90 days to finalize the deal.

France is concerned another Cup race in the Southeast, which already hosts more than half of the schedule, will further over-saturate the market. NASCAR spent the past few years trying to alleviate that saturation, closing North Wilkesboro and North Carolina Speedway that once hosted two Cup events each and taking one date from Darlington.

"The schedule is getting completed and we have no intentions right now of getting a Sprint Cup race there for 2009," he said. "That's all we can say right now. We don't have any intentions of doing that."

France said Smith has not informed him of his plans, which many speculate includes buying Pocono or Dover, closing those tracks and giving the Cup dates to Kentucky and Las Vegas.

"I don't know about that," France said of the speculation. "Those are speedways that have their events. They're doing fairly well. When something changes in the ownership structure we'll deal with that."

There also has been speculation that Atlanta, Talladega and California are swapping dates in the fall of 2009. That would give Atlanta the Labor Day weekend race, California the Talladega weekend and Talladega the Atlanta weekend.

Sources said that likely will happen.

"We're working on a number of things," France said. "That's one of the reasons it's too late in the game for us to be looking into any other realignment options, not the least of which is that SMI doesn't own Kentucky right now.

"We're trying to get our schedule out earlier than we have in a while and there could be some dates that move around a little bit, not from speedway to speedway, just in scheduling. [We] might be able to work on a different weekend for one track or another that has been trying to do that for a long time."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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