Thursday, June 14, 2001

Race may beat area records

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPARTA — If everyone who buys a ticket for the $1.1 million NASCAR Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway shows up Saturday, the crowd will set an attendance record for a one-day Tristate sports event.

        As of Wednesday afternoon, the speedway had sold 65,489 tickets for the Outback Steakhouse 300 stock car race. The single-event sports attendance record is 64,006 for the Bengals-Browns game last year that opened Paul Brown Stadium.

        “Seating capacity for the grandstand, tower and bowl areas is 66,089, and that probably will be all gone by (today),” Speedway vice president and general manager Mark Cassis said Wednesday. “That doesn't include the clubs, suites, handicapped areas and RVs, which will probably be another 4,000 people. We expect 70,000 people at least.”

        But Mr. Cassis also said the track is intent on accommodating “everyone who wants to see the race. We expect to have standing room tickets on sale (today) at $40. We don't want to turn anyone away.”

        When the 1.5-mile tri-oval speedway opened last season, 63,750 people turned out for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 225 race, despite heavy rain that resulted in mud-filled parking lots and a huge traffic backup on I-71. A rock concert with Metallica later in the summer drew more than 52,000.

        Speedway officials have added more paved parking areas, and have poured gravel and crushed rock on the finger roads that carry traffic out of the grassy parking lots. And the state has added a 3-mile paved shoulder lane on I-71 north of the Ky. 35 entrance to carry more cars in and out.

        “Weather predictions look good,” Mr. Cassis said. “the weather man is calling for some rain that should end Friday afternoon, and dry weather with temperatures in the low 80s Saturday. It should be a great for a race.”

        The track will be open at 4 p.m. today for practice sessions with NASCAR All-Pro Series cars from 4-4:55 p.m. and Busch Series cars from 5-9 p.m. General admission is $10 for the practices.

        Qualifying for the Busch race begins at 7 p.m. Friday, with the Kentucky 150 All-Pro Series race taking the green flag at 9 p.m. Friday. The Busch race starts at 8 p.m. Saturday.


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