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Judge dismisses antitrust lawsuit filed against NASCAR

1/7/2008 - NASCAR

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A federal judge on Monday dismissed an
antitrust lawsuit filed against NASCAR by a Kentucky track that was
left off its premier racing circuit.

Kentucky Speedway alleged that NASCAR had conspired to leave the
Sparta track and others out of the Sprint Cup -- formerly known as
the Nextel Cup -- series despite their superior amenities.

Judge William O. Bertelsman threw out the speedway's suit
against NASCAR and the International Speedway Corp. in a ruling
from U.S. District Court at Covington in northern Kentucky.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the ruling "puts an end to
any question about which locations and dates NASCAR can operate its
races. Like other sports such as the NFL, MLB and the NBA, NASCAR
can host its events where it decides is best for the sport and its
fans."

The speedway plans to appeal, its attorney said.

"We feel that there are serious issues of both law and fact
that need to be heard by the appellate court," attorney Stan
Chesley said by phone.

The speedway, located about halfway between Louisville and
Cincinnati, has drawn huge crowds to some of its other races. The
NASCAR Busch race, now called the NASCAR Nationwide series, last
year drew more than 70,000 people to the 1.5-mile tri-oval in
northern Kentucky.

The speedway had asked that ISC be ordered to sell some of the
tracks it owns that host Sprint Cup races and that the speedway be
awarded in excess of $200 million in damages.

"We are disappointed in the court's decision, both for
ourselves, for the commonwealth of Kentucky and for all those fans
who have been hurt by what we believe are NASCAR's and ISC's
anticompetitive actions toward Kentucky Speedway," Chesley said.

Its events also include a Craftsman Truck Series race and an
IndyCar Series event.

To improve traffic flow for the huge crowds, an interstate
highway was widened near the track and a new exit was added. The
track, with a capacity of just over 66,000, has said it's prepared
to add 20,000 to 35,000 seats if it attracted a Sprint Cup race.

Attorneys for NASCAR and ISC asked Bertelsman for a summary
judgment in November, arguing the speedway had insufficient
evidence to prove NASCAR and ISC worked together with other tracks
to keep the Kentucky track from obtaining a race in the Sprint Cup
series.

A March 4 trial date was set in the case, but Bertelsman had
urged attorneys for NASCAR, ISC and the speedway to return to the
bargaining table. He said an expected monthlong trial, followed by
years of appeals, could be avoided if the two sides continued
mediation.

Poston said Monday that race fans in Kentucky and the Cincinnati
area have been "great supporters" of races at Kentucky Speedway
but said there are factors of geography and a tight schedule for
the 36-race Sprint Cup series, which runs from February to
November.

"It's not simply possible to squeeze in too many more events
onto our schedule," he said.

In the last decade, NASCAR's expansion has largely been outside
the South, in places such as Indianapolis, Chicago and Michigan.