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Kansas track facing construction delays

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Posted: Saturday July 03, 1999 07:23 PM


KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Lawsuits and lousy weather have made it increasingly unlikely that the new auto racing track in Wyandotte County will be ready in time for next year's Winston Cup season.

The 2000 Winston Cup schedule will be released this summer. On Wednesday, Grant Lynch, president of Kansas Speedway, said the Kansas City track probably won't be on that schedule.

"We have not decided to make an announcement yet," Lynch said. "But it would be real, real, real hard to make 2000 now."

Lawsuits by property owners and the inability to sell bonds for the project made it unlikely the track would be finished as early as planned. Recent rains have also slowed construction.

"Things would have had to have been almost perfect," said Jeff Werthmann, project manager for Turner Construction, the company building the track. "This [weather] makes it more of a long shot."

"Most likely, we're looking at an opening date of 2001, based on the wet weather," Lynch said.

The most time-consuming project, building the grandstands, is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, Werthmann said. But the building of the track has been slowed.

Don Denny, spokesman for Wyandotte County Unified Government, said government administrators are disappointed but not devastated that being the host site for a Winston Cup race might not be possible in 2000.

"We knew going in that there was a time limit," Denny said. "Even though there was a goal of 2000, we knew with weather and other things it could be 2001."

Denny said the economic impact of a delayed opening would be minimal; primarily property taxes lost when houses on the site were removed.

But he said recent statements by NASCAR president Bill France that the Kansas Speedway will have "the best traffic operation of any track in the country" is giving the track priceless publicity.

Despite the delays, the track may still be able to accommodate another big-time racing event. The Indy Racing League, for instance, isn't working on as tight a schedule as NASCAR.

"We would not be disappointed in 2000 with a small race," Denny said. "We could work out the bugs."

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