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Later starting time should help beat heat at South Point 400

Updated September 8, 2019 - 4:57 pm

It was the smallest Cup Series crowd in Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR history. So when last year’s South Point 400 finished under a blistering midday sun, Chris Powell threw shade on the spectators.

Upon reaching out to NASCAR and TV partner NBC, the LVMS president was successful in getting the start of this year’s fall race pushed back to 4 p.m. — meaning that for most of it, the sun will have dipped below the rim of the grandstands, basking them in welcome shadows.

With 100-degree temperatures forecast again for race day, Powell hopes the only ones who will be running hot on Sunday when the playoff opener finishes under the lights are the drivers on the track.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in the last couple of weeks,” he said about the likelihood of topping last year’s inaugural South Point 400 crowd estimated at 45,000. “There’s been interest over the last three or four weeks as the season has wound down, and I’m looking very much forward to it.”

Race day tickets starting at $49 — children 12 and under get in free with a ticketed adult on Friday and Saturday and for $10 on Sunday — combined with a cooler grandstand and a field of red-hot drivers hoping to get the playoffs off to a flying start are fueling Powell’s optimism for a nice crowd.

“It’s going to look great, and I think we’re going to have a great race,” he said.

Bowling with Brendan

Three days of on-track activity begins Friday at LVMS, but fans interested in jump-starting their weekend may want to consider Thursday’s NASCAR Burnout Boulevard during which the playoff drivers will do burnouts on the Strip (4 p.m. start) and Brendan Gaughan’s celebrity bowling classic at South Point.

The semi-retired driver from Las Vegas will host Cup Series pals including Kurt and Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez and Matt DiBenedetto, and fans will be able to bid on becoming their bowling teammates for the night.

Limited spectator seating is available for the 6 p.m. event benefiting the Las Vegas chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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