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Bristol attacks empty seats



Until Kentucky Speedway officially announces that NASCAR has given it a Sprint Cup date, Bristol Motor Speedway will always be considered the home track of the Commonwealth. Fans have known for years that some of the best racing on the entire Cup schedule can be found only a few hours from the state’s southeastern border.

Bristol has been one of the hardest tickets to come by for years, but like the rest of the country the track has been hit hard by our country’s economic slowdown. For the first time in years you can actually pick up the phone and order tickets for a Cup race at Bristol, including the toughest ticket in all of NASCAR, the August night race.

The season-opening Daytona 500 sold out just days before the green flag waved, but that was after the rest of the events of the track’s Speedweeks were held in front of grandstands that were peppered with empty seats. That trend followed this past weekend as Auto Club Speedway in California once again struggled to put fans in the seats.

It is a problem that we will be seeing at every stop on the schedule, but for Bristol it is one that track has decided to attack and not just sit back and count its losses. The speedway along with its spring race sponsor, Food City, has joined forces to take the tickets to the people. Speedway officials have been visiting Food City stores in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky over the last few weeks giving race fans the opportunity to directly purchase tickets for both races as well as season tickets.

There have also been a few changes to the Food City 500 weekend at the track this season that are sure to bring more excitement to the fans. Bristol and Food City have long worked together to make the race more of an event than just a day at the races. Food City has been sponsoring its Food City Race nights for several years and it gives the average fan a chance to get up close to some of the drivers as well as the cars they drive.

This year for the first time, the event will be held on Friday night at the Speedway, which will also give the fans the opportunity to not only enjoy the activities that have long been associated with Race Night but to also enjoy all that the speedway has to offer. The event will cap off a day at the track that will feature qualifying for the Food City 500.

Race Night gives the fans a little something extra on Friday, but the speedway didn’t stop there this year. It recently announced that following the Scotts Turf Builder 300 Nationwide race on Saturday, the track would be hosting its first Saturday Night Special of the season and it would be included in the price of the Nationwide ticket.

This event will definitely be special for longtime fans of Bristol, as it will feature some of the biggest names to ever compete on the high-banked track. Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Junior Johnson and Harry Gant are expected to start the race as well as Terry Labonte, Jimmy Spencer, Sterling Marlin and Phil Parsons.

The race will consist of 50 laps divided into two segments. The first segment will consist of 15 laps that will be driven by a teammate of one of the past stars. The second segment will find the former stars behind the wheel and they will start according to where their teammate finished in the first segment.

No doubt there will be plenty of bragging rights for the driver that wins this event, but the real winner will be that driver’s favorite charity as the speedway will donate $25,000 in the winner’s name as well as $10,000 to the secondplace driver’s favorite charity. The speedway will also donate $5,000 to the favorite charity of every driver that participates in the event.

You have to admire Bristol for all it is trying to do to fill its seats. The track has always been known as a fan’s track and this season it has stepped up in a big way to give the fans more for their hardearned money. The track might not be completely filled on race day, but those that will take in the weekend’s activities will come away once again singing the speedway’s praises!

Race Preview — Event: Shelby 427. Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval, 20 degrees of banking in the turns). Date: March 1, 4:45 p.m. TV: Fox. Radio: PRN. Defending champion: Carl Edwards.

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