Whitesburg KY

All eyes again on Ky. track after last season’s debacle

Steve Mickey

Steve Mickey

Early last July, all of the eyes of the racing world were finally going to be on Kentucky Speedway as it was time for the first-ever green flag to be waved to signal the beginning of Sprint Cup racing in the Commonwealth. Kentucky Speedway had been hosting both Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races for several years, but finally it was time for the Cup boys to make an appearance.

Every one of the 107,000 grandstands seats was sold by the week before the race as expected and speedway officials along with Kentucky law enforcement agencies were set to move the crowd into and out of the track. The only problem was that the roads leading into the track along with the parking lots could not handle the large number of cars trying to get to the race.

Traffic was reported backed up almost 20 miles and as it got closer and closer to time for the race to start, it became apparent that not everyone was going to make it to a seat. Stories of people watching the flyover through their sunroofs and listening to the national anthem over their car radios were numerous. The traffic jam was so bad that it even took on its own name of Carmageddon.

Many fans never made it to their seats that night, as the best they could do was listen to it on their radios. Speedway officials immediately stepped up in the days after Carmageddon and offered those fans with unused tickets the opportunity to trade them for any race at a Speedway Motorsports track or exchange them for a ticket to this Saturday night’s race at Kentucky. Apparently most fans have forgotten about last year’s nightmare as around 8,000 fans decided to take the track up on its offer of a ticket for this year’s event.

Fans stuck in the traffic weren’t the only ones upset with the Speedway’s handling of traffic, NASCAR officials immediately started looking into what went wrong and demanded that the track present to them a plan to rectify the situation before another Cup race was held at the track. Track officials along with officials from Kentucky’s Department of Transportation immediately went to work on the problem with both sides taking the necessary steps to ensure that it would not happen this time around.

Interstate 71 that runs by the Speedway now has a four-lane exit ramp that leads onto Kentucky Route 35, which has been widened to accommodate seven lanes of race traffic. Of course roads were not the only problems. Once they got to the track, many fans found that all of the parking lots were full with no provisions for overflow parking.

The Speedway has done its part to make sure once you get to the track on Saturday that you will have a place to park and tailgate. An additional 173 acres of land was bought adjacent to the Speedway and converted to parking. The track also converted 50 acres of existing property to parking, bringing the total of new parking spaces to 20,000.

The track didn’t stop with adding new parking spaces. Once parked, fans will now be able to get around the track quicker as there will be more free trams running . To keep from stopping traffic in front of the Speedway, a new pedestrian tunnel has been added to keep both traffic and fans moving.

It almost sounds like you will not recognize the track from last year. While some might not have gotten close enough last year to actually see it, this weekend it looks as if everyone should be able to make it to a seat in time for all of the pre-race activities. The one thing that didn’t need tinkered with was the track itself. Kyle Busch put on a great show on his way to winning the first Cup race in Kentucky and with a few new rule changes that will be in place for Saturday, the racing should be even better.

Hopefully, the only problem race fans will have will be trying to decide between a Dale Earnhardt Jr. t-shirt or one of Michael Waltrip in his University of Kentuckypainted Toyota.

Race Preview
Event: Quaker State 400
Track: Kentucky Speedway (1.5-
mile tri-oval, 14 degrees of banking in the turns)
Date: June 30, 7:30 p.m.
Radio: PRN
Defending Champion: Kyle Busch

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