Kentucky: Cup race unlikely for 2010
Bruton Smith says he does not expect Kentucky Speedway to get a NASCAR Sprint Cup race next year but will continue to try to get Speedway Motorsports Inc's latest property on the 2011 schedule.
Speaking with reporters before tonight's IndyCar Series race at the 1.5-mile oval, Smith, the owner and CEO of SMI, also said he intends to turn Kentucky's annual IndyCar race into a sellout.
SMI purchased the track earlier this year, but NASCAR officials have said a lawsuit filed by the former owners of Kentucky Speedway must reach a conclusion before the track will get a Sprint Cup date. SMI has been named as a co-conspirator in the antitrust case. A judge ruled in NASCAR's favour last year, but the case is still being heard in federal appeals court.
An announcement on Friday that the IndyCar Series would move its Kentucky race to Labor Day next year added to speculation that SMI was trying to make room for a summer Sprint Cup date. However, Smith said he does not see that happening.
"Months ago, I thought we would be able to run a Cup race here next year, but not now," Smith said. "That is a disappointment. Right now we don't see that we can, but I wish something would happen. Maybe you can wave a magic wand. It would be great for the sport."
Smith's tracks have been a part of the Indy Racing League since its inception in 1996, and three of its tracks - Texas Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway and Kentucky - are on the 2010 IndyCar schedule. However, two tracks that appeared to be possibilities for 2010 dates, New Hampshire and Las Vegas, were not on the schedule, and Smith criticized IndyCar's return to a more diverse mix of road and street courses and oval tracks.
"It's a mistake," Smith said. "It's going to bite them in the ass. I don't know who's making these decisions, but when you start talking about racing in a parking lot, you've made a mistake."
Smith, whose company already has made changes to Kentucky Speedway's infield parking areas and access road, said a priority will be ending the drainage problems that have plagued the track since it was built in 2000.
"It will be a system so we won't have to worry about this seepage," Smith said. "This is something that should have been done when it was built."