Atlanta to lose race in 2011
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Atlanta Motor Speedway will lose one of its two NASCAR Sprint Cup racing dates next season, clearing the way for Kentucky Speedway to finally secure a long-sought Sprint Cup race.
Atlanta Motor Speedway announced Thursday that it will hold onto the Labor Day Weekend event on Sept 2-4. It will be the first time in 50 years that the 1.5-mile track, owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., hasn't hosted two Cup events.
Kentucky Speedway, an SMI track, has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, when it is expected to announce it has secured a Sprint Cup date.
Sources have confirmed Kentucky will replace Atlanta on the schedule, but not on the March weekend that Atlanta traditionally has hosted its first race. Multiple reports over the weekend said Kentucky would host a date in July. Sources said California Speedway is also expected to lose one of its dates to Kansas.
Speedway Motorsports Inc., purchased Kentucky from the track's original ownership group in 2008. SMI owner Bruton Smith said his main goal was to bring the track a long-coveted Cup date.
The original owners filed an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and France family-controlled International Speedway Corp. in 2005, contending they tried to exclude the track from the Cup Series.
Smith called the court case a major stumbling block and said he was relieved when it eventually ended this year.
"Atlanta Motor Speedway has provided top-quality racing entertainment to spectators from across the nation and around the world for 50 years," Atlanta president Ed Clark said in a statement. "While our schedule will change, our commitment to the racing fans who have been the heart and soul of Atlanta Motor Speedway through these years will be stronger than ever.
"Our entire staff will be even more driven to produce the top annual sporting event in Georgia for many years to come."
Kentucky already hosts NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series events, as well as an IndyCar race. Plans are already in place to expand seating from 65,000 to around 100,000.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.