SPARTA, KY (FOX19) - Kentucky Speedway officials have announced the addition of a Sprint Cup race for 2011.
Speedway Motorsports Inc. owner Bruton Smith, who bought the track in 2008, made the official announcement during a press conference at the Speedway on Tuesday afternoon. The race will be a 400-mile night race on July 9, 2011.
Smith joked with the crowd during the announcement, saying the reason he called the press conference was to announce an additional 50 miles to the NASCAR truck race.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Sprint Cup champion Daryl Waltrip and several other dignitaries attended the announcement.
"I thought I've been to exciting events," said Gov. Beshear. "But nothing was more exciting than the announcement Bruton just made."
The Speedway opened in 2000 and has been trying to get a Sprint Cup race for several years. They filed an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. in 2005, claiming the two groups had an unfair monopoly over the sport. The case ended earlier this year.
"I've been practicing this speech for 11 years," said Mark Simendinger, general manager of Kentucky Speedway.
Talk really heated up about the Speedway getting a race after the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is owned by the same group that owns the Kentucky Speedway, lost its Sprint Cup race last week.
Kentucky has been lobbying for a Sprint Cup race for several years. The Speedway already hosts a NASCAR Nationwide and truck series, as well as an IndyCar race. Next year's Nationwide race will be held the day before the Sprint Cup race.
Smith said plans are already in place to expand seating from 65,000 to around 100,000 and add 12 more elevators. There will also be 200 more acres of camping space.
Smith also asked Beshear for an airport.
"He never quits," Beshear said.
Beshear said the addition of the race will have a $150 million economic impact on Kentucky.
"In addition to the excitement this race will bring to race fans, it will have an unparalleled economic impact on the region," said Beshear. "Kentucky Speedway – start your engines!"