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Bristol almost sells out
Bristol Motor Speedway narrowly failed Saturday to sell out the Irwin Tools Night Race, the second Sprint Cup race at the track this year before a less-than-full house.

Prior to the Food City 500 in March, the speedway had an unprecedented run of 55 consecutive sellouts for Sprint Cup races dating to August 1982.

But the estimated crowd of 155,000 at the 160,000-capacity speedway Saturday night (BMS does not release official ticket sales) showed that at least a few empty seats might be the new norm.

Saturday’s crowd easily topped the 138,000 in attendance in March – and is the second-highest in NASCAR this season behind only the 175,000 who turned out for the season-opening Daytona 500 – but BMS officials still weren’t satisfied.

“That will never ever be our mentality,” said Lori Worley, director of public relations at BMS. “That can’t be our mentality. It’s got to be you’re going to sell out every single race. You have to work toward that. The very fact that we didn’t sell this race out will only make us more determined that in 2011 we will do everything possible to do that.”

The disappointment of not getting the sellout, though, was countered by the still-impressive scene under the lights Saturday as Worley looked out over the track during the race.

“It’s a lot of people out there,” she said. “It’s a fantastic-looking crowd.”

Kevin Triplett, the speedway’s vice president of public affairs, said he considered Saturday’s crowd to be the largest at a NASCAR event this year, as Daytona has a much larger infield that inflates its numbers.

“We consider us having the largest grandstand crowd,” Triplett said. “It’s a tribute to the fans here at Bristol.” Tricities.com

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