Kentucky could get 2011 Cup race
A federal appeal court's decision against Kentucky Speedway could actually help the track get a NASCAR Sprint Cup date as soon as 2011.
A three-judge panel from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's decision against the founders of Kentucky Speedway that NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. violated federal antitrust laws by not giving the track a Sprint Cup race.
Few options remain for the track's founders, who sold the track in May 2008 to Speedway Motorsports Inc., which is led by Bruton Smith. Jerry Carroll, a member of the founder's group, told the Associated Press that the group would decide what to do next week but suggested that the case might not continue.
"I think I'm ready to wrap it up and let the chips fall,'' Carroll told the AP.
Smith has said he wants the 1.5-mile speedway about 30 minutes south of Cincinnati to host a Cup event. NASCAR officials have said that as long as the suit remains, it will not consider such a move.
"This is a big win for NASCAR and a big win for the sport of stock car racing,'' Smith said. "But the biggest winners will be the fans who want a Sprint Cup race in Kentucky. Now we can grow Speedway Motorsports with an expansion plan for the future of Kentucky Speedway. That's our intention moving forward.
"Our goal has been to host a Sprint Cup race at that facility and now we can work toward making that happen. Fans better get their tickets for 2010 because they'll get priority as we prepare for 2011 and beyond.''
NASCAR chairman Brian France wouldn't comment Friday about the track hosting a Cup race in 2011 but admitted that the court's decision "validates our business model. It's a big ruling.''
In a statement from NASCAR, it noted that "the 2010 [Cup] schedule is set and we anticipate no changes. As we've said all along, the current schedule would not be expanded for an additional race there. However, we are happy to discuss alternatives with the track owners for 2011 and beyond as they relate to NASCAR's realignment plans."
Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer of International Speedway Corp., also was pleased with the court's ruling.
"This confirms NASCAR, much like other sport properties such as the NFL, MLB and the NBA, has the right to host its events when and where it decides is best for the sport and its fans,'' France Kennedy said in a statement.
If Kentucky got a race date in 2011, it would not be the only change made to the Cup schedule. France Kennedy says that her company is committed to putting a second race at Kansas Speedway in 2011 to coincide with a casino that is being built next to the track.
Where the date would come from, she would not say earlier this week. Just as Smith has not said what date he would move from one of his tracks to give Kentucky a Cup race. Roanoke.com