It's official: Kentucky will join the Sprint Cup sked in 2011

Big news in the Bluegrass State, as Kentucky officially joins the ranks of Cup-level NASCAR states.

On Tuesday, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith announced that Kentucky will receive the race that was swiped -- oh, sorry, "realigned" -- from Atlanta, and will run on July 9, 2011. This marks the first new track at the Sprint level since Kansas and Chicagoland in 2001.

At the moment, the track "only" seats 66,000, but expansion is a possibility. (Though having a sellout or two early on might not be the worst way to goose a little interest in the facility. The more good attendance news, the better, right?)

Kentucky has been trying to get a Sprint Cup date for a decade, but a variety of reasons -- up to and including litigation -- kept the speedway off the schedule. But once all appeals in an antitrust lawsuit were dropped in 2009, the way was clear for a race, and Smith made the move, one of many that will redefine the face of the Sprint Cup schedule in 2011 and beyond.

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