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Crash offer irks NASCAR

Promotion by Lowe's Motor Speedway tied discount to car count in Sunday's biggest crash.

- pstonge@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2009

A top NASCAR official expressed some clear displeasure Monday about a Lowe's Motor Speedway promotion tying ticket prices to how many cars were involved in the biggest accident at Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The LMS promotion was announced last week, a couple of days before seven fans were injured in a spectacular wreck on the last lap Sunday at Talladega.

“To be honest, we'd rather not dignify that type of promotion with a comment,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications, during a news teleconference Monday afternoon.

LMS had offered to sell 1,000 tickets combined to May 16th's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and May 24th's Coca-Cola 600, pricing them at a dollar per car involved in the most significant on-track incident at Talladega.

For years, Talladega has been ripe for significant pileups – sometimes called “The Big One” by media, fans and drivers – in part because of the speeds cars travel and how closely they race on the 2.66-mile track.

This year, the biggest wreck came on the seventh lap and involved 14 cars. At noon Monday, LMS began offering the 1,000 tickets for $14.

“All of the media coverage leading into Talladega was centered around ‘The Big One,' and we thought it would be a fun tie-in for fans,” LMS spokesman Scott Cooper said in an e-mail. “It turned out to be the very first wreck of the race, and we had a lot of fans that called early Sunday afternoon because they were excited about it. We decided they deserved the chance to get the savings we had promised.”

Seven fans were injured during the race's final lap when a car driven by Carl Edwards sailed into a catch fence, sending debris into the crowd. Two fans were taken to Birmingham hospitals, including one woman who suffered facial injuries that might have included a broken jaw. The other was admitted for an undisclosed medical reason.

No drivers were hurt in either of the wrecks. On Sunday, Edwards criticized NASCAR rules governing races at Talladega, saying they endanger drivers.

The $14 tickets sold out within an hour, Cooper said Monday. More at that price were offered to fans who were waiting in line.

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