Speedway owner asks group to drop lawsuit

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - The owner of Kentucky Motor Speedway
called on the track's founding group to drop the antitrust lawsuit
that's preventing him from adding the facility to next year's
Sprint Cup Series schedule.
"They have a moral obligation to their state to get out of the
way," Bruton Smith said Friday. "NASCAR understands that I will
bring them an event from another speedway, but these people need to
get out of the way. They have an obligation to Kentucky to do
that."
Speedway Motorsports Inc. recently asked NASCAR to consider
Kentucky for the 2010 Cup schedule, but the sanctioning body will
not consider any proposals until the former owners drop their
antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp.,
its sister company.
The 2005 suit stemmed from the group's unsuccessful bid to bring
a coveted Cup race to Kentucky. The suit was dismissed in early
2008, but the case is on appeal.
Smith traveled to the Kentucky Derby last weekend to urge the
group to drop the appeal, but said "nothing much was
accomplished" because there are two staunch holdouts.
Smith identified the two holdouts as Richard Duchossios and
Richard Farmer, two of the five listed principals in the original
ownership group. Duchossios is the chairman at Arlington Park, a
horse racing track near Chicago, while Farmer is the chairman of
Cintas Corp.
Because the original ownership group sold the Sparta track to
Smith last year for $78.3 million, it stands to gain nothing if the
track finally does get on the Cup schedule.
But Smith wondered what the businessmen stand to gain by moving
forward with the suit.
"It's already been dismissed once," he said. "I guess they
want something for their aggravation in dealing with NASCAR all
those years. And I suppose they have lawyers who tell them they
will win the appeal. I don't know. They need to just stop standing
in the way because the state of Kentucky has spent a lot of money
to help that track."
The group spent $152 million to build the facility, which opened
in 2000 and hosts an annual second-tier NASCAR Nationwide Series
event. At seating for 68,000 fans, it's currently the largest venue
that hosts a Nationwide race but doesn't have a Cup date.
Smith said he has roughly two to three weeks to resolve the
lawsuit conflict and give NASCAR a 2010 proposal for Kentucky.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said earlier this week the
sanctioning body has an approaching deadline in mind for beginning
next year's scheduling process.
NASCAR last year eliminated Kentucky from 2009 consideration in
late May.
"I want to be respectful of NASCAR's time element," Smith
said. "But we do need a decision and I'm siding with NASCAR on
this one."
Smith said he "probably would not" have purchased the track if
he had known the former ownership group would have posed such a
roadblock to getting the track a Cup race.
Kentucky is the eighth NASCAR-sanctioned track in SMI's
portfolio, but the only one without a Cup race.
"I didn't expect this, the problem of not being able to just go
ahead and move a race there," he said.
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.
SMI also will build new restrooms, concession stands and
souvenir shops.
Speculation has put Atlanta Motor Speedway at the top of the
list of SMI tracks that could lose a date to accommodate Kentucky,
but Smith has refused to reveal which of his tracks he is
targeting.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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