Owner: Family has no plans to sell Pocono Raceway

LONG POND, Pa. -- Bruton Smith's push to land the Sprint Cup Series in Kentucky will go on without plucking dates from Pocono Raceway.

The 2½-mile triangle NASCAR track nestled in the mountains is not for sale.

And Dover International Speedway might be out of Smith's reach, too.

Rose Mattioli told The Associated Press on Tuesday there are no plans to sell Pocono, which currently has two Sprint Cup races, and there will be racing on the mountaintop for at least "as long as our grandkids live."

"It never was available; it never will be available," said Mattioli, who owns the track with her husband, Joseph. "My husband has stated that over and again. That's it."

Smith was widely considered an interested buyer after Speedway Motorsports Inc. purchased Kentucky Speedway last week. There was speculation Smith, the SMI owner, had his eye on Pocono. If he bought that track, Smith could have moved one or both its dates to any of his speedways.

Rose Mattioli said that Pocono Raceway was entrusted to their grandchildren and they will continue to help run the track.

"They're always looking here," she said. "We get phone calls all the time. We're not interested in selling. This is it."

The Sprint Cup Series tested on Tuesday and will again on Wednesday in preparation for the Pocono 500 on June 8. The Pennsylvania 500 is Aug. 3.

The 81-year-old Smith told the AP he had not spoken with the Mattiolis about purchasing the track, which is outside New York City and Philadelphia.

Joseph Mattioli, the Pocono Raceway board chairman, brought NASCAR to the Poconos over a plate of fried chicken with Bill France in 1972. In the mid-1970s, when the CART-USAC fight helped cause financial problems at the track, Mattioli wanted to sell until he received a call from France Sr. The two met in New York and France persuaded Mattioli to ride out the downturn and keep the track.

Rose said Joseph Mattioli is feeling better after a recent bout with pneumonia.

Smith did, however, say he's had some conversations with the owners of Dover International Raceway and it's his understanding that the track is "more or less for sale." Pocono, Dover and Indianapolis are the only three tracks on the current Cup schedule owned by track operators other than SMI or International Speedway Inc.

The Dover track serves markets in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., among others. Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, said there are routinely offers for the 1-mile track. He didn't expect the Sprint Cup Series to desert Dover, even if the concrete mile was ever sold.

"We have over the years, and we will continue over the years, to anticipate two races at Dover," McGlynn said. "I don't know why there would be a removal of a race from here."

Smith remains determined to get Kentucky a Sprint Cup race, even though NASCAR said last week 2009 is out of the question.

"There is a way, but the main problem would be timing," Smith said. "We have a short stick here on the timing, as NASCAR would like to get this schedule out by September. But [NASCAR chairman] Brian France is correct when he says I have not asked about a date."

Smith's latest push for a race date comes at the same time he's been pushing for a second Cup race at his Las Vegas showplace. He's said he's committed to getting a date for both facilities, but Kentucky is the more pressing matter right now.

"Today, we need to get Kentucky moving," Smith said.

That's why Pocono was the most likely candidate for purchase, as Smith could take both of its races and move one to Kentucky and one to Las Vegas.

He brokered a similar deal with North Wilkesboro, when he and Bob Bahre teamed to buy the track. Smith moved one race date to Texas, Bahre moved the other to New Hampshire and North Wilkesboro was shuttered. Smith last year bought New Hampshire from Bahre.

While drivers routinely complain Pocono's 500-mile races are 100 miles too long, they want to keep driving at the track that held its first NASCAR race in 1974.

"There's a lot of history here at Pocono and they deserve every consideration," Jeff Burton said. "We have to be where the people want us to be. If the attendance is good here, then they don't deserve to lose a race."