Thursday, May 22, 2008

SMI To Announce Kentucky Acquisition?

A press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET today in Concord, NC, where Speedway Motorsports, Inc. is expected to announce the full or partial purchase of Kentucky Speedway.

The track is currently owned by a group headed by Jerry Carroll, and while the details of this afternoon’s announcement are still unclear, it appears to involve a sale of the speedway – in full or in part – to SMI. SMI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer O. Bruton Smith is scheduled to address the media at this hour in the Media Center at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and Sirius Speedway will take you there live as soon as the press conference begins.

In addition to adding an eighth NASCAR track to SMI’s portfolio, the sale of Kentucky Speedway to SMI would also impact the antitrust lawsuit filed against International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR for allegedly conspiring to prevent the speedway from getting a spot on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Lawyers for the track are appealing a decision handed down in early January by a United States District Court judge to dismiss that lawsuit for lack of evidence.

In order to host a Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, SMI would presumably have to move one of their existing events from another track. SMI also owns Lowe’s, Texas, Atlanta, Bristol, Las Vegas and New Hampshire Motor Speedways, as well as Infineon Raceway in California.

JPM "Frustrated" With Changes: Juan Pablo Montoya is pulling no punches in expressing his unhappiness with a pair of crewchief changes for his team in the last few weeks.

In late April, Ganassi swapped crewchiefs between two of his teams, sending Jimmy Elledge to the Montoya team, and Donnie Wingo to the Reed Sorenson camp. Elledge was released by the team Tuesday after less than a month on the job, replaced by Brian Pattie. Montoya said of the move, “I am pretty frustrated. They told me 'We are thinking of getting rid of Jimmy' and I said 'Don't do it.' Next thing I knew, they did.” He said he was satisfied with the direction Elledge was taking the team, and has expressed his frustration to team owner Chip Ganassi several times in the last 24 hours.

Crab Eradication: NASCAR has issued a memo limiting adjustment of the rear axles on the new Sprint Cup Series racecar. The rule takes effect next weekend Dover International Speedway, and pieces like the one used last week by Sam Hornish Jr. in the Sprint All-Star Race will be outlawed, effective immediately. The new rule allows a maximum of one degree of rear toe, and Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said 98-percent of teams are already running within the limits of the new rule. The rest are at 2 degrees.

Big Buck Duck: Roush Fenway Racing announced yesterday that Aflac Insurance will serve as primary sponsor on Carl Edwards' No. 99 Ford beginning next year. Today’s edition of Sports Business Daily reports that the deal is a three-year pact worth $26 million a year; second only to the $30-million per year Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team receives from Amp Energy Drink and the National Guard.

Helio Says No: Helio Castroneves is denying published reports that he plans to leave the IRL IndyCar Series for a career n NASCAR. said Wednesday he doesn't plan to leave the IRL's IndyCar Series for NASCAR any time soon. A story in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times said Castroneves was interested in following former IRL stars Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti to NASCAR, as soon as next season, but the former Indianapolis 500 champion said today that his comments were taken out of context. In his words, "My English is apparently getting worst. I did not understand much of what they wrote. They definitely took it out of context." Castroneves will start fourth in Sunday's 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

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