Kentucky Speedway Pleased With This Year's Sprint Cup Race After Past Struggles
Kentucky Speedway "finally enjoyed a NASCAR Sprint Cup race where all went relatively well," as attendance "was good, the weather cooperated and there were no major traffic problems" during Saturday's Quaker State 400, according to Tom Groeschen of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. While attendance "was shy of the 107,000 capacity, track officials were pleased." Crowd estimates "ranged from 60,000 to as many as 80,000." The speedway's first Sprint Cup race in '11 was "marred by massive traffic and parking problems," and the following year saw "fewer fans and brutally hot weather." Last year, "torrential rain pushed the main Cup event back from Saturday to Sunday." But Kentucky Speedway GM Mark Simendinger said that at this year's event, the "only traffic issue was a tour bus breakdown near the parking area" but that "things otherwise went well" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/30). But in Charlotte, Jim Utter wrote, "Kentucky Speedway's lone Sprint Cup Series date might be in jeopardy without ever having a chance to live." Attendance has "dropped markedly each season since the inaugural sellout" in '11, which was "accompanied by massive traffic and parking problems that left fans stranded hours on nearby highways." This year, "less than half of the grandstands were filled." Utter: "How long before owner Bruton Smith decides he would be better served by a second date at Las Vegas than continuing to struggle to recover what’s left of the Kentucky track’s fan base?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/29).
BUMPS IN THE ROAD: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said of Kentucky Speedway's track surface, "It just sucks, man. God almighty. It's so brutal. It's just terrible, man. And I hate it for the speedway, because they just got their date. But man, it's the most miserable thing out there. Ain't nothing about that I want to do over again. I'm glad it's over." Driver Kyle Busch added, "If you fix the start-finish line, just pave the straightaway there where it's the roughest, I think we'd all be very grateful." Simendinger said, "We will evaluate the track at the end of the season. I'm not sure when or if we're going to repave the track. It's one of those deals where you will know when it has to happen" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/30).