Former Speedway owners not giving up lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - One of the former owners of Kentucky Motor Speedway says he won't be forced into dropping an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR by new track owner Bruton Smith.

Richard Duchossios said Thursday he's not sure why Smith has decided to go public with claims that the former owners have a "moral obligation" to race fans in Kentucky to drop the four-year-old lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp.

"I'm not going to be bullied," Duchossios said.

Smith purchased the track last year for $78.3 million after the original ownership group tried unsuccessfully for almost a decade to land a coveted Sprint Cup race.

Smith, the owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., is in the process of giving the venue a $70 million facelift with the goal of finally bringing a Cup race to the area. Kentucky is the eighth NASCAR-sanctioned track in SMI's portfolio, but the only one without a Cup date.

SMI recently asked NASCAR to consider Kentucky for the 2010 Cup schedule, but the sanctioning body will not act on any proposals until the former owners drop their antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and ISC, its sister company.

Smith made his frustrations public last week, naming Duchossios and Richard Farmer as the lone holdouts from the original ownership group.

"NASCAR understands that I will bring them an event from another speedway, but these people need to get out of the way. They have an obligation to Kentucky to do that," Smith told The Associated Press.

Duchossios refuted Smith's claim that he and Farmer are the lone holdouts.

"All five of the partners feel exactly as I (do), to single out two, I don't know why he did that," Duchossios said. "For him to say we have a moral obligation to the state of Kentucky... that's wrong. If anyone had a moral obligation, it was NASCAR that wouldn't let the people of Kentucky have it under our ownership."

The group spent $152 million to build the facility, which opened in 2000 and hosts an annual NASCAR Nationwide Series event. With seating for 68,000 fans, it is currently the largest venue that hosts a Nationwide race but doesn't have a Cup date.

The owners filed the antitrust suit in 2005 claiming NASCAR and ISC had an unfair monopoly over the sport. The case was dismissed last year but is currently on appeal.

Duchossios said the group offered to sell the lawsuit to Smith during the negotiations, but he declined.

"When he purchased the track, we had everything laid out for him," Duchossios said. "He understood the lawsuit, understood why it was there."

Smith isn't sure why the appeal process is continuing considering the uphill battle facing the original owners.

"I guess they want something for their aggravation in dealing with NASCAR all those years," Smith said. "And I suppose they have lawyers who tell them they will win the appeal. I don't know. They need to just stop standing in the way because the state of Kentucky has spent a lot of money to help that track."

The state spent millions on road improvements near the speedway, which is located about halfway between Louisville and Cincinnati.

Lawmakers are also weighing an amendment to the Kentucky Tourism Development Act that would allow SMI to recoup 25 percent of the expansion costs over a 20-year period through sales tax revenue. The plan is contingent on the track landing a Cup race.

The General Assembly adjourned in March without passing the measure, though there's a chance it could be reconsidered this summer during a special session. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Duchossios believes Smith's business savvy will one day bring a Cup event to Kentucky. But he's not ready to give up on the lawsuit and remains baffled why Smith decided to vent his frustration to the media.

"The press is the wrong place to air a thing like this, it's wrong," he said. "This is just bad business what he's doing. It makes it more difficult to get anything settled."

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AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer contributed to this report.


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