Thursday, November 04, 1999

Ky. Speedway to open with truck race

ESPN to carry NASCAR event in prime time

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPARTA — The Kentucky Speedway will hold its inaugural race June 17 when it plays host to a nationally televised NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race to be sponsored by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co.

        Speedway developer and co-owner Jerry Carroll said the Kroger 225 will have a purse of $525,000 and be carried by ESPN during a prime-time Saturday broadcast.

        “This is one of the reasons why three years ago we somehow got the crazy idea of building a mile-and-a-half oval and having a real superspeedway in the state of Kentucky to supply automobile racing for all the surrounding areas,” Carroll said during a Wednesday press conference.

        The race will be moved from the Louisville Motor Speedway, which Carroll and the speedway's ownership team purchased last year.

        That track is smaller than Kentucky Speedway, which will be better able to handle the trucks.

        “This will be the first race run at this new track, and we're really looking forward to it,” said Dennis Huth, vice president of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

        Carroll said the truck race is another step toward securing a NASCAR Winston Cup race, which has always been one of his goals in developing the track. In September, Carroll announced the running of a 300-mile Indy Racing League race Aug.27. That race will be called the Belterra Resort Indy 300.

        “Everything we do is a step” toward getting a Winston Cup race, Carroll said.

        The Craftsman series is 5 years old and is gaining popularity with race fans across the country, said former NASCAR driver and ESPN commentator Benny Parsons, who attended Wednesday's press conference. A cross between a production street truck and a Winston Cup Series stock car, the trucks are capable of reaching speeds of more than 170 mph.

        “I think (the truck series) has some of NASCAR's most compet itive racing events, and to be expanding to new venues such as the Kentucky Speedway is really exciting and what the series needs to do to keep getting new fans interested,” Parsons said.

        Also attending the press conference was driver Jack Sprague, who Saturday won his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship by winning the last race of the 1999 season at the California Speedway.

        “This is a beautiful setting and a great race track” Sprague said. “You're going to see a great race here, and we'll probably race three to four wide on a track this size.”

        Driver Terry Cook, called the track “awesome.”

        “I'm really looking forward to coming down here and racing,” he said.

        Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval at Ky.35 and Interstate 71 in Gallatin County. Carroll said the $152 million speedway — which will feature 65,000 seats and 50 luxury boxes with room to expand — is scheduled to be completed by June.


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