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Kentucky reign: NASCAR backs swap

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Aug. 01, 2010

LONG POND, Pa. – NASCAR will allow Speedway Motorsports Inc. to move one of its current Sprint Cup race dates to Kentucky Speedway in 2011, the Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned.

A formal announcement about the move is expected Aug. 10 at the speedway in Sparta, Ky., multiple sources confirmed on Sunday.

It remains unclear which Cup race currently hosted by an SMI track would be involved in a swap of dates on the NASCAR schedule. Speculation has most often centered on Atlanta Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, both of which currently host two Cup races each season.

SMI spokesman Scott Cooper confirmed Sunday that a news conference has been scheduled at the Kentucky track on Aug. 10, but would not disclose any further details.

Bruton Smith, SMI's chairman and CEO, has sought a Cup race at the 1.5-mile speedway since purchasing it for $78.3 million in 2008. His efforts to obtain a date were hampered by a lawsuit filed by the track’s original ownership group. The case ended earlier this year.

Last month, Brian France, the NASCAR chairman and CEO, said the sanctioning body had received requests from SMI and International Speedway Corp. for such date swaps. ISC requested a second Cup race for Kansas Speedway, but did not identify which track would lose a date.

SMI officials at the time declined to name what track or tracks were included in their request.

ISC, which like Smith's SMI owns speedway properties and promotes events, is the publicly traded sister company to the France family's privately held NASCAR. Tracks owned by the rival entities host a majority of events on NASCAR schedules for Sprint Cup as well as the Nationwide Series and Truck series.

NASCAR officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

A race at Kentucky Speedway would be the first addition to the Cup schedule since the 2001 season, when Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway became regular race stops.

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