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Speedway says it was jilted in NASCAR conspiracy

1/27/2006

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A federal judge ordered Friday that
Kentucky Speedway can move ahead with its $400 million antitrust
lawsuit against NASCAR.
In a 17-page opinion, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman
rejected NASCAR's motions to dismiss the case. He also refused a
request by International Speedway, which owns several NASCAR
tracks, to be dropped from the lawsuit.
The case alleges NASCAR conspired with International Speedway to
decide which tracks should be host to coveted Nextel Cup races.
Kentucky Speedway, based in Sparta about halfway between Louisville
and Cincinnati, was left out, despite better amenities than many of
the sites.
Even with Bertelsman's ruling, it could be a year or longer
before the case goes to trial. He set a deadline of Feb. 1, 2007,
to finish "discovery" -- the process of pretrial fact gathering,
including interviewing witnesses.
"We're very pleased with the decision and we're looking forward
to going forward," said Stan Chesley, an attorney representing
Kentucky Speedway in the case.
In arguments earlier this month, NASCAR's attorneys told the
judge the track had no standing to sue because it wasn't trying to
assure competition -- as antitrust law guarantees -- but to become
part of a monopoly.
Chesley said Kentucky Speedway's ultimate goal is to compete
directly with NASCAR.
In a written statement from NASCAR, spokesman Ramsey Poston
expressed disappointment with the ruling but said the organization
would "vigorously defend itself."
"NASCAR maintains that its sanctioning process is
pro-competitive and has been a great benefit to the industry
including fans, sponsors, drivers, teams and tracks," Poston said.
"On the other hand, the Kentucky Speedway lawsuit, which is
seeking a bid system, would likely provide a short-term financial
windfall to NASCAR but would be disastrous to the long-term health
of the sport."
Bertelsman noted courts have long been reluctant to dismiss
antitrust complaints before all the facts are gathered. He said the
conspiracy claims aren't frivolous and therefore should go forward.
International Speedway had argued it at least should be released
from the case because it doesn't do business in Kentucky. But
Kentucky Speedway pointed out it does conduct business over the
Internet, and the judge agreed it falls under the court's
jurisdiction.