Kentucky Speedway unlikely to be lost in unification shuffle

With unification earlier this year, some have wondered where Kentucky Speedway fits in with the IndyCar Series' future plans. According to Terry Angstadt, the president of the Commercial Division who is at the forefront of putting together next year's schedule, local fans can rest easy.

"We're very pleased with last year's race. (General manager) Mark (Cassis) and his guys took on the challenge of making it a much better event," Angstadt said. "At this point in time, it is clearly in our plans. It's a good venue for us and there is a good open-wheel base in the area."

Last year's race, the first time it was held on a Saturday evening, attracted 56,482 spectators. With unification, projections are that the Aug. 9 race could sell out.

Including Kentucky, there are six races this season that are located within a five-hour drive of Cincinnati (Indianapolis, Chicagoland, Mid-Ohio, Detroit and Nashville), which has led to some speculation about the track's future standing. Compounding that was last week's news that IndyCar met with representatives from the Cleveland Grand Prix about getting on to the schedule.

"We have geographic openings where we don't serve our base well. There is a concentration of races in the Midwest right now," Angstadt said. "We've been open with everyone we've talked to about our approach. To have an unbalanced schedule of races in one area doesn't make sense long term."

Besides Cleveland, Angstadt has met with representatives from Laguna Seca (Calif.) and Mexico City the past couple weeks. It also appears Toronto might return to the schedule next year after Andretti-Green bought the promotional rights to that event.

Next year's schedule probably will be 19 races and could be announced by the end of July. Next year might be another transition year for the schedule with a goal of getting to 20 or 21 events in 2010 or '11. The schedule also could see an even mix of ovals and street courses.

"I would say it is almost 50-50 feedback as far as people who want ovals and street. You look at the international heritage and mix of drivers and global opportunities," Angstadt said. "To have a 50-50 blend is an outstanding schedule and keeps the heritage of open-wheel racing. Road courses provide a street festival environment, and you can also go to historic sites like Watkins Glen."

A corporate sponsor of the series should be announced by the end of the season. There are three finalists. Cincinnati Enquirer

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