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NASCAR: Smith expects Speedweay to lose sponsorship

Associated Press
SPARTA, Ky. ó Lowe’s appears to be on its way out as the title sponsor of Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s Charlotte-area track.
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.
The Sports Business Journal reported Friday that Lowe’s would not renew its title sponsorship agreement with SMI due to financial concerns. The report cited industry sources as saying SMI was asking for a significant bump over the current deal, estimated to be around $3.5 million a year.
“Sometimes you’re negotiating and maybe you ask too much but I don’t know,” Smith said.
Smith directed questions on the details to his son, SMI president and CEO Marcus Smith.
Marcus Smith said Friday that SMI and Lowe’s were still negotiating and he was “confident” something would be completed soon.
His father was a bit more pessimistic but stressed SMI would continue to work with Lowe’s in the future.
“They will still be with Speedway Motorsports along the way, so that’s good,” Bruton Smith said.
Bruton Smith expects the track to work to find a new title sponsor if Lowe’s leaves. If a new sponsor can’t be found, the track’s name will revert back to Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I think race fans will like that better,” Smith said. “We caught heck over that. We shouldn’t have. It was a good business decision.”
The track currently hosts several NASCAR events each year, including a pair of Sprint Cup races and the series’ All-Star event.
Lowe’s also is the title sponsor of the No. 48 Chevrolet driven by three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. The deal with Johnson expires at the end of next year, and Johnson called his relationship with the company “great” on Friday.

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