NASCAR: Kentucky Speedway won't have race in 2009
NASCAR officials said Friday not to expect a Sprint Cup Series date at Kentucky Speedway in 2009.
"I don't see any scenario where there could be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Kentucky in 2009, regardless of ownership," NASCAR communications director Ramsey Poston said.
Kentucky Speedway founder Jerry Carroll said in a phone interview Friday that he is unhappy with the decision and had contacted his attorneys to fight it.
"This is what bullies do and it's been going on too long," Carroll said. "They've showed their hand again. If they want to break us and want to run us out of business, get more creative."
Bruton Smith, the Speedway Motorsports Inc. owner, announced Thursday that he had purchased the Kentucky track, located halfway between Cincinnati and Louisville, with the intention of having a Cup race there next season.
Poston said there had been no formal request made from Speedway Motorsports for a date. In addition, Poston said, NASCAR is well into the sanctioning process for the 2009 season and hopes to release the schedule in the near future.
"We're hoping to be able to release the schedule earlier than ever so the tracks can promote their races sooner," Poston said.
Though Poston chose not to comment on the matter, sources close to NASCAR said NASCAR and SMI officials held a sanction meeting Friday, and SMI didn't so much as mention Kentucky -- because they don't yet own the track, and won't formally until late summer at the earliest.
"In terms of next year, after we looked through it, it's just not really an option," Poston said.
According to papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Smith has not yet completed the speedway purchase, in which he agreed to pay $78.3 million for the track that cost $152 million to build.
There is a 90-day window in which Smith can walk away from the deal.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Carroll were planning to meet with Smith on Sunday during the running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
Also being considered for the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule is a three-track swap of race dates. Atlanta would receive the Labor Day race that's currently run in Fontana, Calif.; Fontana would receive Talladega's fall race; and Talladega would receive Atlanta's fall race.
That move is designed to help Atlanta and Fontana, which have struggled with weather problems on their current dates.
Kentucky Speedway regularly hosts NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series, Indy Racing League and ARCA events, but has lobbied unsuccessfully since it opened in 2000 to bring a Cup event to the 1.5-mile oval.
With crowds of more than 70,000, the track is currently the largest venue that hosts a Nationwide event but doesn't have a Cup race. Smith has said he immediately plans to add 50,000 more seats to make it more suitable for a Cup race.
The estimated economic impact that a Cup event would have on northern Kentucky is expected to approach $200 million.
The lure of that big-ticket event was so high, the track's ownership filed an antitrust lawsuit in 2005 against NASCAR and International Speedway, alleging they worked together to create an unfair monopoly and prevent Kentucky from securing a Cup race.
The lawsuit was dismissed this year, but the speedway has appealed.
Information from ESPN.com NASCAR writer Marty Smith and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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