SPARTA — Quick questions and answers about the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race coming to Kentucky Speedway in 2011:
Question: So now that Kentucky Speedway finally has a Sprint Cup race, what do we know about the race?
Answer: NASCAR's big league will run in Sparta for the first time on July 9, 2011. It will be a Saturday night event. Kentucky Speedway owner Bruton Smith indicated Tuesday the race will be 400 miles. At this point, the title sponsor for the race has not been selected. The Cup race will be the second part of a weekend doubleheader with the Nationwide Series running Friday night, July 8.
(The NASCAR truck series and the Indy Racing Series will also run together at Kentucky Speedway on the same weekend. Don't be shocked if that weekend moves to October.)
Q: What changes will be made to the track in Sparta before the Cup race comes next year?
A: Smith said he will spend between $90 million and $100 million to upgrade the Speedway's facilities. Included will be an addition of some 50,000 seats (which would take total seating capacity to some 116,000); more restrooms and elevators; and 200 additional acres of camping space at the track.
(Previously, Smith has also spoken about completely reworking the garages and the infield facilities at the Speedway. Whether all that could be done before the 2011 race remains to be seen.)
Q: What will the economic impact of a Cup Series race mean to the commonwealth?
A: Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that Speedway officials told him the race would produce $150 million in economic activity. That might be a bit high. In 2007, a study by the Atlanta Sports Council determined that the fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway had an impact of some $75 million on the community. Either way, it should have a significant positive impact on the commonwealth.
Q: Will 2011 will be the first time the Cup Series has ever raced in Kentucky?
A: Believe it or not, no. On Aug. 29, 1954, the series now known as Sprint Cup ran for the only time to date in the commonwealth at Corbin Speedway. Lee Petty, the father of Richard, made a pass of Herschel McGriff to win in what was then known as the Grand National Series.
Q: How can I get tickets for the Cup race at Kentucky Speedway?
A: Track General Manager Mark Simendinger said first priority for tickets to the Cup race will go to 2010 Kentucky Speedway season ticket holders. You can still buy 2010 Speedway season tickets (which would get you the NASCAR truck race and the Indy Racing League event Labor Day weekend).
Second in line for Cup tickets, Simendinger said, will be those who make a non-refundable $50 deposit for 2011 season tickets (the $50 will ultimately go toward the cost of season tickets).
The price of tickets to the Cup race has not yet been determined, Simendinger said.
For more information on tickets, go to Kentucky speedway.com or call (859) 578-2300.