Sunday, May 4, 2003

Ky. Speedway still hoping for Cup race


But bid likely to get tangled in NASCAR politics

This summer Kentucky Speedway will make its most aggressive push since it opened in 2000 to land a Winston Cup race by 2004, but politics remain a key obstacle.

Track officials feel they've done everything necessary to secure a spot on the 36-race schedule. And for the first time, there is realistic hope that something could happen - NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. announced at the beginning of this season that a schedule shakeup is possible for next season.

"It's very important that we land a Winston Cup race," said track owner Jerry Carroll. "We don't want to just be a test track. ... If we've got to get aggressive to make something happen, that's what we need to be doing."

But getting on that schedule is still a political battle, and right now Carroll is on the outside looking in. His speedway isn't part of International Speedway Corp., owned by the France family, that controls NASCAR. So ISC locations such as California and Kansas City may appear more attractive than the independent Kentucky Speedway.

"The reality is we're ready," Carroll said. "What's our problem? ISC doesn't award races. NASCAR does."

That's right. And NASCAR, a.k.a. the France family, is more likely to award a race to an ISC location where it still will bring in 65 percent of the gate that goes to track owners. That's why a third of NASCAR's schedule is raced on ISC tracks.

HANGING IN THERE: Veteran NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace made his 600th consecutive start, Saturday in the Pontiac 400 at Richmond. A rookie in 1984, Wallace trails only Ricky Rudd's 690 straight starts among active drivers.

AHEAD OF PACE: Defending Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart hasn't won a race this season and has three DNFs (did not finish). But he entered Saturday in seventh place in the points race, three spots better than where he was last year at this time. His 41st-place finish out of 43 cars last week at Fontana, Calif., doesn't look so bad considering Stewart had seven DNFs on the way to last season's title.

OLD ENOUGH AT LAST: Kyle Busch, who will race in Saturday's ARCA RE/MAX Channel 5-205 at Kentucky Speedway, will begin the transition to NASCAR's Busch Series this season and race at that level full time next season.

Until Friday, Busch had been unable to race in a NASCAR series because he wasn't 18 years old. With his birthday behind him, Busch will make his first Busch Series start May 24 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, he will make six Busch Series starts this season.

BIG MAC AND NASCAR? R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is unlikely to remain NASCAR's title sponsor for its major series past the 2005 season. Thus "Winston" would fall out of Winston Cup Series. Possible sponsor replacements mentioned include Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, United Parcel Service and McDonald's.

PUBLIC VIEWING: The Indy Racing League will hold an open testing session June 20 at Kentucky Speedway. Tickets are available for $10 at the gate and include admission to the garage area and autograph sessions.

---

E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




FLYING PIG MARATHON
Locals win Flying Pig
Complete results

REDS SUNDAY GAME
Giants 6, Reds 1
Reds Box, Runs

REDS SATURDAY GAME
Giants 9, Reds 6
Reds notebook: Riedling prepared to start
Harnisch putting in his innings
First win of season gives Graves shot of confidence
Aussie takes American game for a kick and a jog
Reds chatter
Reds Q&A

MORE BASEBALL
Fay: MLB power rankings
NL: Pujols, Cards hot
AL: Pedro twirls five-hitter
Notes from Saturday's games
Louisville 4, Buffalo 1
Cy Young vs. Cy Old
Mix up makes Choi the NL rookie of month
Ex-Astro Lugo says he didn't strike wife

KENTUCKY DERBY
Funny Cide up in Derby
Jockey Santos realizes dream with a gelding
Frankel accepts defeat in stride
A win for owners, and their home state
In a N.Y. minute - or two
No fade at finish for humbled Patton

BENGALS
Bengals begin to take shape
Newest receiver should fit right in
Bengals Q&A
Kitna comes out with early praise for Warrick

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Price fired as Alabama football coach
Tide president made the right call
Alabama players upset by coach's firing

PREP SPORTS
Daugherty: O.J. Mayo
Prep Insider
Prep results, schedule

BASKETBALL
Cronin's goal is to outfox ex-employers UC, U of L for recruits
Pictures worth 1,000 words for Missouri English major
Court: newspaper may be entitled to Knight records
Duncan to repeat as MVP

AUTO RACING
Ky. Speedway still hoping for Cup race
Driver Nadeau critical but improving

HOCKEY
Giguere pulled in loss to Stars
Clones lose finale

GOLF
Verplank maintains 3-shot lead

TENNIS
Venus advances

BOXING
De La Hoya stops Campas

SUNDAY SPORTS SPOTLITE
Ignorance is bliss for Thomas More
Some college coaches can't be trusted
'I made some very, very poor decisions'
Division II Lewis beats BYU for NCAA title
Top Of The Second power rankings

PLAN YOUR DAY
This weekend's sports on TV, radio