- Associated Press - Sunday, August 1, 2010

LOUISVILLE, KY. (AP) - Kentucky Speedway will get a NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 2011, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The 1.5-mile tri-oval halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati will host NASCAR’s top series in early July. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced. A news conference is scheduled at the track Aug. 10.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. purchased the speedway from the original ownership group in 2008. SMI owner Bruton Smith said his main goal was to bring the track a long-coveted Cup date.

The original owners filed an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. in 2005, contending they tried to exclude the track from the Cup Series.

Smith called the court case a major stumbling block and was relieved when it eventually ended this year. Smith had no immediate comment, but said before last week’s race at Indianapolis that he’d like to have a Cup race at “all” of SMI’s NASCAR sanctioned tracks.

The company also owns New Hampshire Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Infineon Raceway.

The only one that lacks a Cup date right now is Kentucky, though Smith said he’s optimistic there would be plenty of time to get the facility ready for a Cup race.

Kentucky already hosts NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series events, as well as an IndyCar race. Plans are already in place to expand seating from 65,000 to around 100,000.

NASCAR officials had no immediate comment, but CEO Brian France said before last week’s race in Indianapolis that the series was mulling “impactful” changes to its 2011 schedule.

“There will be some changes as they look now,” France said. “That could not quite materialize, but I sense it will and we’ll have some pretty impactful changes to the schedule that I think will be good for NASCAR fans.”

SMI will likely have to move a race from one of its other tracks to Kentucky. Smith has consistently played coy about his intentions, but during a Cup visit to New Hampshire in June, he didn’t exactly endorse the prospect of continuing to have two Cup races a year in New England.

While the second race traditionally kicks off the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, the June race could easily be bumped off the schedule.

NASCAR is expected to announce its 2011 schedule by Labor Day.