SBD/March 28, 2011/Events and Attractions

Auto Club Speedway Draws More Than 85,000 For Lone Cup Race

Harvick edged out Johnson in close finish at Auto Club Speedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 drew "more than 70,000 customers in the grandstand Sunday, as well as an estimated 15,000 more in the suites and the infield campground," according to Jim Alexander of the Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE. It "wasn't a sellout," and the "non-sellout streak is now 15." But given the "dreary weather," Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker and her staff are treating the track's lone Cup race this season "as a triumph." Zucker: "It was a great day. I wish the sun had been shining down on it, but other than that there's nothing I would change." Alexander reports tarps "originally covered 13 sections in the upper grandstand and 13 more in the lower grandstand, to reduce capacity and provide some ad signage." But the tarps in the lower grandstand by yesterday morning "had all been removed because of ticket demand," and a "lot of those seats were subsequently filled." Zucker: "There really wasn't a lot (of ticket inventory) left to sell today. It's the best crowd we've had since 2006" (Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE, 3/28). Kevin Harvick, who passed Jimmie Johnson on the final lap to win the race, "was impressed with the estimated 75,000 who attended." Harvick: "The crowd looked pretty good." Johnson added, "I thought today was decent, for sure." In California, Louis Brewster notes the "aggressive ACS marketing program paid off, even though many early-arriving fans were soaked." Zucker: "It was an amazing crowd" (SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE, 3/28). In Charlotte, Jim Utter writes, "Attendance didn't appear to be markedly different from last season -- and that was after the track blocked off some sections of seats in Turn 1. Perhaps the exciting finish on Sunday will help change a few minds" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/28).

ON THE WRONG TRACK? Prior to yesterday's race, the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's Utter noted weather concerns "play a big role in early-season scheduling," but it "seems after a big kickoff to the season each year with the Daytona 500, the last thing the sport should do is trek out to the West Coast for three of the next four races." Those races are "far removed from the home of NASCAR's fan base" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/27).

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