NASCAR: Speedway Motorsports wants Kentucky in mix in 2010
By Jenna Fryer
CONCORD ó Speedway Motorsports Inc. officials said they have asked NASCAR to add Kentucky to the 2010 Sprint Cup Series schedule.
Any chance SMI has is contingent on the former owners of Kentucky Motor Speedway dropping an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp., its sister company.
SMI chairman Bruton Smith, who traveled to the Kentucky Derby last weekend to make a case for dropping the suit, has so far been unsuccessful in his efforts.”We’re trying to persuade these people to try to drop that appeal, and then they are out of the way of NASCAR, and it would make it much simpler,” Smith said. “We haven’t been able to make that occur. There’s only two people holding it up.”
Smith is willing to give up a race date at one of his seven other facilities to get Kentucky on the schedule. He would not reveal which track he is considering, and SMI president Marcus Smith said no decision has been made on which track would lose a date if NASCAR adds Kentucky to its 36-race schedule.
Kentucky is the eighth NASCAR-sanctioned track in SMI’s portfolio but the only one without a Cup race. With seating for 68,000 fans, it’s currently the largest venue that hosts a Nationwide race but doesn’t have a Cup date.SMI has signed off on a $75 million expansion it hopes will make the track worthy of a Cup race. The expansion will add 50,000 seats and an infield area catering to motor homes that would accommodate up to 600 vehicles.
Speculation has put Atlanta Motor Speedway at the top of the list of SMI tracks that could lose a date to accommodate Kentucky, but Marcus Smith said it would be wrong to assume that track has already been selected.
Atlanta’s spring race is still plagued by spotty weather and sagging attendance, but a straight swap of that date with Kentucky would not work because early March is not ideal conditions for a race in the Bluegrass state.
Bruton Smith dismissed speculation that his Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., would take over Atlanta’s spring date and Kentucky would assume Infineon’s late June spot on the schedule.
CONCORD ó The chain-link fences at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be replaced in time for its June race, partly in response to Carl Edwards’ airborne accident at Talladega.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. will spend $400,000 to put up fences made of welding wire.
“Let’s fix it because the sport is at risk,” Bruton Smith said. “The thing we need to do at all the speedways (is) to make sure we have the strongest (fencing) there is.”
Smith said he had started the process of replacing the fence before Edwards’ accident at Talladega two races ago.
“A chain-link fence, you might think it’s strong, but it’s not,” Smith said. “I had already made a decision to (change). We were a little ahead of the curve on that. It was not adequate. It looked bad, it was bad, and I thought, very unsafe.”
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