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Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Marcus Smith said fans can swap their unused Kentucky tickets for entry into events at any 2011 race at an SMI track. The tickets also can be swapped for entry into the 2012 race at Kentucky.

“I know that we all work on a common goal of making the experience for race fans” appealing, Helton said. “Along the way, we have hiccups.”

Maybe a good scare will solve that.

This is the time of the year when next year’s race schedule is set and, while Kentucky is sure to be on it, Helton might have made officials there squirm a bit when he refused to say for certain Cup racing would return.

“I don’t want to speculate on that type of thing,” he said. “You look at the history of our sport, we’ve had issues that happen, and we generally figure out how to work through them.”

Asked if he threatened the governor with moving the race to another one of his tracks, Bruton Smith cracked, “Las Vegas, baby.”

Kentucky gets another shot this season in October when it holds Trucks and IndyCar races.

Two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart knows change must come.

“I felt bad for the fans because they are the ones that suffered last weekend,” he said. “It put a black eye on us.”

Most tracks have dealt with traffic and parking headaches in the past and usually found a way to ease congestion _ and complaints.

The foul-up was a big speed bump in what’s otherwise been a solid year for NASCAR. TV ratings are creeping up, first-time winners such as Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith and David Ragan placed fresh names in the news, and Helton believes the revamped points system has added a jolt of interest in Chase qualifying.

The first 10 spots go to the top-10 in points, with the final two wild cards reserved for the winningest drivers not already qualified. Those two drivers, though, must be in the top-20 in points.

“We like the energy or emphasis around what the wild card has placed on winning,” Helton said.

NASCAR wants to keep the focus on wins, great races, and the fun on the track.

Instead, it’s dealing with the consequences of having fans miss out on all of that in Kentucky’s first run in the big time.

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