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Lowe's drops Charlotte track naming rights UPDATE #2 SMI owner Bruton Smith said Saturday he expects the home improvement chain to end its 11-year sponsorship of the 1.5-mile oval at the end of the season.  "I think we'll miss them," Smith said.

07/31/09 Officials from Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Lowe's insist they are still talking in the wake of a report that the home improvement chain is ending its sponsorship of SMI's flagship track.  The Sports Business Journal reported Friday that Lowe's will not renew its 11-year sponsorship of the 1.5-mile oval outside Charlotte, formerly known as Charlotte Motor Speedway.  SMI president and CEO Marcus Smith said both sides are still negotiating and that he remains confident a deal will be completed soon.

07/31/09 Lowe’s Cos. Inc. has decided not to renew its naming-rights deal at Lowe’s Motor Speedway after this year, ending an 11-year relationship that began as the first racetrack naming-rights sponsorship, the SportsBusiness Journal has learned.

After more than a year of renewal talks, the home-improvement retailer informed Speedway Motorsports Inc.  the track’s parent company, of its decision within the last two weeks, industry sources told SBJ, a sister paper to the Charlotte Business Journal.

The initial 10-year, $35 million deal ran through 2008 and last year the two sides agreed on a one-year extension through 2009 when they could not finalize a long-term deal. Talks continued this year, but the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement.

Sources said it’s not inconceivable for Mooresville-based Lowe’s to change its mind, given that five months remain on the current deal and the unpredictable nature of the economy, but such a change of heart is considered unlikely.

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, said, “Both companies have benefited as strategic partners for 11 years and we are finishing a one-year extension. Currently, we’re still working on and discussing the components of another extension to continue our relationship. Those components have not been finalized, but the process is moving along and we are confident to have this completed in the near future.” Barring a late agreement with Lowe’s or the signing of a new corporate partner, the track is expected to go back to its former name, Charlotte Motor Speedway, in 2010.  More at Charlotte Business Journal

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