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Volume 26 No. 226
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St. Louis-Area Track Shoots For Record Crowd At IndyCar Race

The "normally empty grandstand" at World Wide Technology Raceway outside St. Louis will be open for Saturday's IndyCar Bommarito Automotive Group 500 in hope of "generating the track’s largest crowd ever," according to Stu Durando of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The race "nearly sold out the 40,000 seats in the straightaway" in '17 before "ticket sales dipped a bit" in '18. A push to "better identify IndyCar fans has led to higher-than-usual ticket sales and further inspired" track Owner Curtis Francois to "believe that he can draw more events to the track." The track is in the middle of a five-year deal with IndyCar, and Francois has "invested a considerable amount to make sure the relationship extends beyond the contract." That includes putting millions of dollars in "renovations to the facility and a re-paved track." He has his "eye on luring another NASCAR race but for now is working to understand the open-wheel crowd." Francois said of NASCAR, "There are no official talks but it’s widely known there’s going to be race realignment in 2020. We certainly are working to be part of those conversations" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/23).

SUPER MARIO WEIGHS INIn Pennsylvania, Paul Reinhard noted Mario Andretti "offered opinion, blame and advice for everyone involved with the forthcoming decision concerning the future of IndyCar at Pocono Raceway." Andretti said, "Pocono is not for sissies. ... It would be a grave mistake for IndyCar not to go back to Pocono." Reinhard noted there have been "calls for a 'divorce' between the track and sanctioning body" following the "third major crash in four years on Sunday." Andretti said, "I have spoken with the powers that be at IndyCar as recently as (Tuesday). I personally think it would be a bigger loss for IndyCar than for Pocono, quite honestly." Andretti added that the racing body leaving Pocono would "diminish the diversity of the series and remove an event from the population-rich Northeast." While he said that Sunday's crowd was the "largest in the seven years since IndyCar returned to Pocono after a decades-long hiatus." Andretti added that the track "needs to be more aggressive in its promotion of the event -- if they get another chance" (Allentown MORNING CALL, 8/22).