By STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer
CONCORD, NC (AP) – NASCAR is still a hot ticket to its Charlotte hub.
Charlotte Motor Speedway announced a sellout for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, meaning an estimated 100,000 fans are expected to attend the highest NASCAR race of the season.
The grandstand seats went on sale earlier this week, and officials announced Saturday that all premium, reserved and standing only seats were all purchased as well. This is the most crowded Coca-Cola 600 since 2017.
“This is Memorial Day weekend, this is the biggest weekend in motorsports,” Marcus Smith, president and chief operating officer for Speedway Motorsports, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
“And we love being the grand finale of the biggest day in motorsports, starting in Monaco and then Indianapolis and then Charlotte with Coke 600.”
NASCAR over the past few years has made many changes to its traditional schedule but the 600 remains untouched. It was 100 miles longer than any event on the Cup schedule and tested teams from day to day during challenging changing track conditions.
“One of my goals is for our events, especially Coca-Cola 600, not to age, but to grow legendary,” Smith said. legendary events long ago.
“It’s been 63 years now, and the Coke 600 is already in our fourth generation of NASCAR fans. People went to Charlotte Motor Speedway with their fathers and grandfathers and now bring their own kids. I think that’s a special thing for us. “
CMS track officials asked a vendor at a neighboring property to remove the Confederate flag he flew this week – and the man agreed.
NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag at all 2020 events, saying it “contradicts our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”
Smith said that when fans of Speedway Motorsports-owned tracks flew the Confederate flag they asked them to remove it and there were no issues.
“People might think it’s a big fight to keep it going, but really not yet,” Smith said. “A lot is said about that about NASCAR fans and who our fan base is. … When race fans come to a NASCAR race, we’re all just NASCAR fans. We’re not part of a party politics or an agenda of any kind. It’s just having a good time with family and friends and racing. ”
Goodyear has faced a spate of flat tires in recent weeks, and the manufacturer says it’s coming from higher loads on the back of the Next Gen car than the teams have seen. in previous Cup Series returns.
“The balance of the Next Gen car is definitely shifted to the back of the car,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing.
Teams will use the same tire package seen at Darlington Raceway earlier this month and the right side tire used at Fontana, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
The teams have 13 sets of wheels for the Cup race, including 12 sets of stickers and a set of scuffs from qualifying.
All -Star race winner Ryan Blaney has joked that he will be looking for seven -time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson to finish fourth Sunday in the Indianapolis 500 – behind fellow Team Penske drivers that they were Scott McLaughlin, Will Power and Josef Newgarden.
“I’m going to root for Jimmie because it’s going to be special for him,” Blaney said. “Talking to him, he had a lot of fun there and did a great job. I always made sure I watched to see what the guys were doing. … I knew he would be grateful to be able to. he has that. and he is very worthy to run the 500. ”
Tyler Reddick’s results aren’t consistent this season, but he’s another one to watch this week.
The driver of No. 8 Chevrolet posted top-10 finishes in two of its Coca-Cola 600 starts and raised its overall speed this year. He has two runner-up finishes in his last five outings, but also three finishes in the 30th or worse.
Following tradition, drivers will display the names of a fallen soldier in front of the windshield of their car for the Coca-Cola 600 as part of Memorial Day week’s celebration.
“To race on Memorial Day and put a name on the windshield, I never felt satisfied enough and we had done enough,” said Ross Chastain, No. 1 driver. 1 Chevy. “We give their families just a few hours to watch the car race and enjoy it. If it takes them away from their daily lives and the real world, that’s good we can do that for them. . “
Larson is the 5-1 favorite sublion of the Coca-Cola 600, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer of Indianapolis contributed to this report.
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