Fans buying in to Sprint Cup race in Kentucky

Sprint cup interest ties up phone lines

awincze@herald-leader.comAugust 13, 2010 

  • 2011 Sprint Cup race

    Where: Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (1.5-mile tri-oval)

    When: Saturday, July 9, 2011

    ■ The time and sponsor for the 400-mile race have not been announced. The full Cup schedule is expected to be completed Aug. 18.

Mark Simendinger fully expected some fervent fan reaction to come Kentucky Speedway's direction once it was announced Tuesday the track would host a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race next July 9.

But when the Speedway's general manager tried to find out the scope of the response, he ran into a slight problem.

"Let me put it this way, when I tried to call our ticket manager, I couldn't get through to him. And I called him again this morning and I still couldn't get through," Simendinger said Thursday. "It's been crazy. I can't even get through to find out how we're doing."

Which is exactly what Simendinger and the rest of Kentucky Speedway's officials were hoping would happen.

One day after Kentucky Speedway's Cup aspirations became a reality, the track experienced an increase in ticket sales among those looking to lock in their chance to obtain seats to next year's inaugural 400-mile event.

The track would not release specific numbers, but Simendinger stated "a couple hundred or more" had purchased 2010 season tickets since Tuesday's announcement despite the fact the Nationwide Series race already took place in June.

Those who hold 2010 season tickets will get first priority at purchasing seats for the Cup race, with fans who put down a deposit for 2011 season tickets getting second priority.

Approximately 50,000 seats are slated to be added to the track, bringing the total capacity to around 116,000.

"What we're dealing with is people basically getting in line either by buying a 2010 ticket or doing a reservation (for 2011) and it's been very gratifying so far," Simendinger said. "They still have the Truck Series race and IndyCar race (on Sept. 3-4) to go to and, not only do they have their spot, but whatever new seats are built, they have the first choice to upgrade to those seats if they want to or if they just want to change."

Simendinger said there was no limit to the amount of season tickets an individual fan could purchase for this year.

While the majority of tracks allow fans the option of purchasing tickets for individual race days, certain facilities like Chicagoland bundle their Nationwide and Cup tickets so that fans have to buy seats for the entire weekend if they want to attend either event.

Which option Kentucky will use has yet to be determined, but the amount of season tickets sold probably will be an influential factor.

"Season tickets have a priority, and then when season-ticket period is over, whatever is remaining will go on sale and in all likelihood go on sale by weekends first," Simendinger said. "If there is anything still left, we might do single-event tickets at that time. But it's hard to tell how much will be remaining."

The first indicator of how much interest has been generated could come when the Camping World Truck Series and IndyCar Series events are held Labor Day weekend.

If fans are indeed snatching up season tickets for the sake of reserving their spots for 2011, there is hope that some would decide to venture to the tri-oval in September to get their money's worth for this year.

"Those are great shows, and anyone who has ever been to those shows knows that," Simendinger said. "If we're getting more people here as a result of the Cup announcement, I think it's great because the product sells itself once we get them here."

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