By The Associated Press
SPARTA, Ky. — Kentucky Speedway’s inaugural Sprint Cup race was a sellout.
Yet there were ticket holders who never got to see Kyle Busch win the Quaker State 400.
An untold number of fans were turned away Saturday night as traffic problems caused by the more than 100,000 fans backed up the only interstate to service the track for hours.
Halfway through the race, there were cars still trying to enter the track, but they were turned away as safety officers needed to change the traffic pattern to an outbound flow for the end of the race.
The speedway’s Facebook page was covered with criticism from angry fans, and many fans spelled out their long trek to the track via Twitter.
Late Saturday the speedway released a statement acknowledging “challenges related to traffic” and planning for improvements next season.
However, the 66,000-seat grandstand capacity was expanded to 107,000 for this race and no roads were added in or out of the speedway.
Busch, who won Thursday night’s Truck race, took early command Saturday, leading 105 of the first 114 laps. He was so far out front, he even maintained his lead during a round of green-flag pit stops.
“This is cool, man. This (win) is right up there with the best of them,” Kyle Busch said after taking the lead in the standings by four points over Carl Edwards. “The way we ran tonight was just awesome. We got the tires we wanted and the fuel that we needed and that’s what won us the race.
“We were right there all night. This guys were phenomenal on pit road. We unloaded really strong off the truck — we really didn’t have a whole lot of work we had to do to it.”
With 50 of the 267 laps to go, Brad Keselowski held a sizable advantage, followed by Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.
On Lap 254, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s left-front tire blew as he exited pit road from a fuel-only stop to bring out the fifth caution. On the restart on Lap 260, only seven cars remained on the lead lap led by Kyle Busch. Behind Kyle Busch was Jimmie Johnson, Kenseth, Kurt Busch and David Reutimann.
Clint Bowyer blew a tire on Lap 261 to bring out the final caution. On the restart on Lap 266, Kyle Busch easily moved out front, but Reutimann tracked down Johnson over the final stretch to finish second.
“You can always say if you had one more lap,” Reutimann said. “We haven’t really done much this year to make some noise. It was a total team effort, just a little short at the end.”
Said Johnson: “We had a solid race car and drove up through the field a few times. (Kyle Busch) was just a little bit better.”
Halfway through the 267-lap race, Kyle Busch was out front followed by Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Johnson.
Keselowski took the race lead for the first time on Lap 142 and led 42 of the next 44 laps.
David Ragan’s No. 6 Ford dropped oil on the track on Lap 152 to bring out the third caution of the race. Kyle Busch regained the lead on the restart on Lap 158.
Jamie McMurray’s engine blew on Lap 200 to bring out the fourth caution . On the restart on Lap 210, Keselowski held the lead followed by Kyle Busch and Johnson.