Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Kentucky Speedway Close To Their Dream

By Brody Jones

In almost eight months, an 11-year dream to see the highest level of NASCAR racing in the Bluegrass State will finally come to fruition. What Jerry Carroll helped start is what Bruton Smith finally managed to achieve in bringing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to Kentucky Speedway. The track, which is located about half-way between Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinatti, Ohio is sure to give fans of racing in Kentucky a different type of “horse-power” than the usual thoroughbred racing fare brings to the state and in its 10-year existence, has already made a considerable impact on the racing land-scape, giving fans in a market starved for NASCAR a venue to watch the best of the NASCAR world race at.
While Bruton Smith will (and deservedly so) get the credit for finally bringing the Sprint Cup Series to Kentucky, one cannot forget the contributions of the original owner, Jerry Carroll, who was determined to give racing fans in Kentucky a venue to call their own so they didn’t have to drive hours-upon-hours to go to a NASCAR race. Under Carroll’s guidance, the track was drawing sell-out or near sell-out crowds to their NASCAR races and also held ARCA Re/Max Series, Indy Car, Indy Lights, and USAC events on the facility. Perhaps the most notable race in Kentucky Speedway history was the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series race where David Gilliland, in a car that had never cracked the top-20 before, pulled off the biggest upset in NASCAR history, propelling him into a full-time NASCAR ride with Robert Yates Racing.
The race date didn’t come without its share of obstacles, however. Many detractors of the track say that it’s really not close enough to any major markets and it holds the smallest seating-capacity of any track on the Sprint Cup Series. But the biggest hinderance to the track getting a NASCAR date was an anti-trust lawsuit filed by Jerry Carroll in 2005 against NASCAR. The suit was dismissed three years later, and ultimately, Carroll dropped the lawsuit, which paved the way for Bruton Smith to move a date from Atlanta to Kentucky, to finally allow the dreams of many Kentucky NASCAR fans to come to fruition.
While the seating capacity, by NASCAR standards, is currently small, it won’t remain that way for long as Bruton Smith, who once said “The road to success is always under construction.” will definitely be having the track in a constant state of construction to boost seating capacity to a more NASCAR-friendly level. NASCAR teams will definitely be glad to have the track hosting all three major NASCAR series in 2011 because, before the ban on testing in November of 2008, was a fertile testing-site for many NASCAR teams and the crowds at Kentucky definitely take pride in their race track, as they do in all the major sports in Kentucky.
So in eight months, the dream Jerry Carroll helped conceive will finally bear the gifts of NASCAR exposure for the state of Kentucky and they desperately need this inagural race to be a success because, like many cookie-cutter tracks, the potential is there for so-called “boring” racing that will drive fair-weather fans away in droves. But there are truthfully far more positives that can come out of Kentucky finally hosting a NASCAR race than there are negatives.

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