On the inaugural night of the Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Busch was able to push past the competition, making history as the first winner of the 1.5 mile oval. Busch pulled away from Jimmie Johnson on a restart with three laps to go to collect his third victory of the season. This win jumps him into the points lead with two months to go before NASCAR’s Chase for the championship begins. David Reutimann passed Jimmy Johnson to finish second. Ryan Newman was fourth, followed by Carl Edwards at fifth.
While the event in Sparta KY, a town of less than 300 people, attracted an attendance of 70,338, there was a major setback to the grand opening of the speedway. The record breaking crowd caused a major traffic jam to the speedway, causing numerous fans to be late to some of the festivities. There was even a shortage of parking to the sell-out crowd and it was reported that some fans were actually turned away to the shortage of space. This was not only a problem to the fans, but even the drivers were having issues with the overcrowded traffic. The two lane Interstate 71 was still packed with cars when the race began, and several fans turned back due to the issue.
While you can call this a success, and that there will be a rich history grow in this region from the new track and revenue, this issue must be solved before next year’s event. It is quite embarrassing for an organization to sell tickets to an event, where the fans either couldn’t reach the event due to poor traffic circulation, or once inside, did not have a place to park. Either way, once these issues are resolved, being a Kentucky native myself, I am optimistic towards the sport’s future in this region and am proud that Kentucky has placed its staple on NASCAR.