(CN) – NASCAR and an affiliate didn’t violate antitrust law by keeping a Kentucky racetrack off the “major leagues” of racing circuits, the 6th Circuit ruled Friday.
Kentucky Speedway claimed that NASCAR refused to sanction a coveted Sprint Cup race at its racetrack and conspired with International Speedway Corp. (ISC) to block Kentucky Speedway from buying other racetracks that already host a Sprint Cup.
The Sprint Cup “is widely considered to be the ‘major leagues’ of stock-car racing,” the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court wrote. “All other stock-car events, like the NASCAR-sanctioned Busch series, are analogous to the minor leagues.”
Fifty-five percent of all Sprint Cup races take place on tracks owned by ISC, according to the ruling.
Since its completion in 1999, Kentucky Speedway’s racetrack has hosted numerous successful races, but never the Sprint Cup.
Kentucky Speedway blames that on the alleged collusion between NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. to shut out competitors.
According to the lawsuit, NASCAR refuses to sanction Sprint Cup races at tracks that aren’t owned by ISC or that don’t allow ISC to buy a major interest.
Kentucky Speedway said the anticompetitive behavior cost it at least $175 million in lost profits.
The district court dismissed the case after deeming the opinions of the plaintiff’s expert witnesses unreliable.
The 6th Circuit upheld the decision to exclude the experts’ testimony and said Kentucky Speedway faced too many hurdles to prove antitrust violations.
“Without having defined the relevant markets, KYS (Kentucky Speedway) is simply unable to sustain its antitrust claims,” Judge Ronald Lee Gilman wrote.
“[T]here is a serious question as to whether KYS is simply a ‘jilted distributor’ that NASCAR bypassed as a host for a Sprint Cup race in favor of its competitors,” he added.