SPARTA — If Bruton Smith is having second thoughts about buying Kentucky Speedway, it's all news to track founder Jerry Carroll.
Speculation arose this week that Bruton's Speedway Motorsports Inc. may not complete its purchase of the Sparta track after Bill Brooks, SMI's chief financial officer, said during a conference call with financial analysts Wednesday he couldn't definitively answer whether the company had decided to move forward with the deal by its Aug. 18 deadline.
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But prior to the running of Saturday's Meijer Indy 300, the last race at Kentucky Speedway under his ownership, Carroll said Brooks' statements were simply legalese and that the deal was as good as done.
“Between Oct.1 and Oct. 15 we'll close this deal out. I have no doubt in my mind that the deal will happen,” Carroll said. “Something would have to really blow up not to close the deal. If you're legally trying to do this deal, Bill Brooks had nothing else he could say. If he said, ‘Yes we're going to close,' then all the legal documents had to be done and he was making the commitment that it was done. There were certain papers that have to be filed.
“Bruton said himself, ‘I didn't say it, and if I didn't say it, it ain't been said.' Bruton is closing.”
Smith, who was also at the Speedway on Saturday, deflected questions about the closing date, saying, “I'll leave that up to other people. That's above my pay grade.”
However, Bruton did say he had not completely abandoned hope of gaining a Sprint Cup date for Kentucky in 2009 although he reiterated the process would be easier if Carroll and his partners dropped their decision to appeal the dismissal of the antitrust lawsuit they filed against NASCAR in 2005.
“I would say it's not impossible (to get a Cup race next year). NASCAR might say that, I don't know,” Smith said. “If you could wave a magic wand and the lawsuit was dropped, we would go to work on that and try to change their mind.”
Saturday's race may have been the last under his official watch, but Carroll said he hoped to stay on in some capacity possibly as part of SMI operations.
“I would like to have a bigger role. I would like to have a bigger role in Burton's entire operation,” Carroll said. “It's the first time I've had any real feeling that I'm part of all this. My feeling in the years I've been here is we don't belong.
“(NASCAR) didn't care if we put 100,000 people in here, they don't care if we do double duty, NASCAR doesn't care. They just wanted us out. We had to do this all on our own.”