My first reaction to the inaugural Sprint Cup race at the Kentucky Speedway is short, sweet, and to the point.
“So this is what we lost a race to.”
That’s really all there is to say. Being a native of the Peach State and a NASCAR fan who is proud to call the Atlanta Motor Speedway his home track, I’m downright offended by the debacle forever to be known as the 2011 Quaker State 400. Certainly not as offended as the fans who went to the track, sat in traffic for hours and either missed the first hundred laps or so or were turned away completely, but still offended.
Since August 5, 2010 – the day Ed Clark had to announce that the historic 1.54-mile oval just outside the city of Atlanta was losing one of it’s two Sprint Cup dates – those of us who love AMS have had to listen to Kentucky Speedway partisans, including the Waltrip brothers, go on and on incessantly about how deserving they were and how great it was to get a race and how special an event it would be.
The traffic issues and the bare concrete wall just inside the turn-one apron make it clear that they were notdeserving and, frankly, it was not even a decent race to begin with. It was more on par with the 1997 NAPA 500 at the California Speedway or the 1999 Pennzoil/Jiffy Lube 400 at Homestead, races that these days are prescribed to combat insomnia.
Everything that has led up to this – the lawsuit, the announcements, everything – looks like one big joke now that the race has been held. Kentucky Speedway has had since August 5 – more than 11 months – to make itself Sprint Cup-ready. And it failed. Miserably.
Meanwhile, Georgian fans look ahead to our Labor Day Weekend of racing. There will be traffic delays, as is the nature of automobile travel in the Atlanta area, but I can guarantee everyone who travels to the track on race day will – unforseen circumstances aside – make it in to see the start of the Advocare 500 on September 4.
As I said, no one feels worse than the poor fans who went there and never even got into the track. Those that missed significant chunks have every right to feel terrible as well, and everyone who has to find a way out of the track deserves all of our pity.
Still, it is downright insulting to be told for nearly a year how deserving this track was to take a date from our track and then watch a farce like this play out before our eyes.
Kentucky Speedway should be ashamed. And unless major adjustments are made, the first Quaker State 400 should be the last Quaker State 400.