Kansas Speedway adds second Cup race

Kansas Speedway officials have made good on their promise to bring another Sprint Cup race to Kansas in exchange for the right to build a racetrack casino.

Speedway president Patrick Warren announced Tuesday the track will host Cup races next year on June 5 and Oct. 9. The October race at the 1.5-mile track will be the fourth in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Officials estimate the additional race will have a $100 million economic impact on the region. That’s on top of more than $200 million projected annually for the Hollywood Casino, a joint venture of International Speedway Corp., the track’s owner, and Penn National Gaming Inc. of Wyomissing, Pa. The casino is scheduled to open in early 2012, just off the second turn.

Warren said the race fulfills a vow ISC made to state regulators when the company applied for a license to build and operate a $521 million state-owned casino next to the speedway.

“We’re delivering (the second race) before the casino even opens its doors,” Warren said.

The second Cup date is part of a restructured 2011 Cup schedule that will include a new race at Kentucky Speedway in July.

Phoenix International Raceway also announced Tuesday it will continue to have two Cup races in 2011. The first race will follow the Daytona 500 in February. AutoClub Speedway, which has hosted two Cup races, will host just one race next season.

Kansas Speedway this year hosts the Price Chopper 400 on Oct. 3, the third race in the Chase.

ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy said with the addition of the casino, the region is “more than capable” of hosting two Cup events.

“There’s a natural connection between Kansas Speedway and the casino, and it will establish this area as one of the major sports and leisure destinations in our country,” Kennedy said. She said the casino and other entertainment options nearby will make Kansas Speedway “two of the most anticipated stops” on the schedule.

Kansas Speedway hosted its first Cup race in September 2001.

The area already is home to a minor league baseball team and an upscale shopping and dining district, Village West. Next year, Major League Soccer’s Kansas City Wizards will play in a new, 18,000-seat stadium within earshot of the speedway.

“We have a great opportunity in front of us,” Lt. Gov. Troy Findley said. “We truly understand in these very challenging economic times how important that really is, not just for the Kansas City region, but for the entire state of Kansas.”

In addition to the Cup races, Kansas Speedway is host to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series, and the Indy Racing League.

“This has far exceeded our expectations,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to be one of the top destinations in this country.”