Drivers, NASCAR Talk Kentucky Speedway Traffic (The Off-Track Variety)

Massive traffic was unfortunately one of the dominant storylines for the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. Below is some of the traffic-related reaction from drivers and officials:

• Jimmie Johnson went home to Charlotte for his daughter's birthday on Friday and flew back to Cincinnati on Saturday morning. He planned to drive to the track, but instead arranged for a helicopter when he heard rumblings about the traffic.

"The stories I heard sounds like there's some upset fans, people that were turned away and weren't able to get into the event today," Johnson said. "It's disappointing. The SMI (track ownership) group knows racetracks and does a very good job at all the racetracks they own.

"It's unfortunate we were unable to look ahead and see where these potential problems were."

Johnson said the Kentucky area was a "great market" and acknowledged the fans were enthusiastic about the race. With that in mind, he called it "a bummer" that some weren't able to make it to the race.

"Knowing (owner) Bruton (Smith), he'll get it fixed for next year and unfortunately it happened this year," Johnson said.

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• Denny Hamlin was caught in a couple hours of traffic coming from the Cincinnati area today, and said it reminded him of when he was a kid coming to the races.

Not that he enjoyed it. Hamlin tweeted from the road that he was in so much gridlock, he was worried he'd miss the pre-race drivers meeting (he eventually made it on time).

"Bruton (Smith) and all those guys know that it is an issue," he said. "My P.R. guy didn't even make it here before the start of the race. It's tough, because you've got a lot of demand for seats out here, you've got a lot of fans who want to come out here and watch the first race. But you can't do anything when there are just two-lane roads."

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• David Reutimann had some of the best traffic experiences of anybody. Why? Because he didn't have to deal with any before the race.

"I slept here," he said. "So I walked out from my motorcoach. It looked good from where I was."

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• NASCAR expressed regret for the traffic issues, even though the sanctioning body wasn't responsible for the gridlock.

"We had a great race and a heckuva crowd here this evening," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "It's disappointing the fans had a difficult time getting in here tonight.

"We expect the track to address this situation head-on and have a much better situation for the fans moving forward."

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• Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger released a statement vowing to do better for the 107,000 fans next time.

"We know we had challenges related to traffic," he said. "We're already planning improvements and looking forward to a much better situation for next year's event."

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