Lowe's, SMI refute report

SPARTA, Ky. -- Officials from Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Lowe's insist they are still talking in the wake of a report that the home improvement chain is ending its sponsorship of SMI's flagship track.

The Sports Business Journal reported Friday that Lowe's will not renew its 11-year sponsorship of the 1.5-mile oval outside Charlotte, formerly known as Charlotte Motor Speedway.

SMI president and CEO Marcus Smith said both sides are still negotiating and that he remains confident a deal will be completed soon.

"We're still working on and discussing the components of another extension to continue our relationship," Smith said. "Those components have not been finalized, but the process is moving along."

The track hosts several NASCAR events each year, including a pair of Sprint Cup races and the series' All-Star race.

Lowe's spokeswoman Chris Ahern said there was "nothing to report" about the nature of the company's talks with the track.

Lowe's is also the primary sponsor of three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. That deal expires at the end of the 2010 season.

Johnson said Friday before this weekend's Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway that his relationship with Lowe's is "great" and he's not worried about what Lowe's decision might mean about its future in NASCAR.

"It's unfortunate that they're not going back, but I guess it is what it is," he said.

SMI owner Bruton Smith, in Kentucky for this weekend's IndyCar race at Kentucky Speedway -- which is owned by SMI -- could not be reached for comment.