NASCAR weekend kicks off with return of fans, and a ‘Virtual Garage’ online

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s NASCAR weekend, and the sound of stock car racing is returning to Las Vegas Motor Speedway — with fans in the stands.

More than 12,000 fans are allowed at the speedway. It’s one of the biggest in-person events we’ve seen here in nearly a year.

In a typical year, the outdoor speedway seats 80,000 people, and over the course of the weekend, around 250,000 fans would show up.

Of course, that’s not the case this year with strict health and safety guidelines due to the pandemic.

But NASCAR and the speedway are working to still bring an engaging and fun atmosphere to the fans.

Normally this would be the second series on the West Coast, but it’s the first this year.

Mike Forde, managing director for NASCAR Racing Communications said this is a special event for NASCAR.

“When we come out to Vegas, it’s always a huge deal for NASCAR,” Forde said.

“We have a number of drivers who are from Las Vegas — the Busch brothers, two of the best drivers in all of NASCAR, Noah Gragson in our XFinity Series … he’s an up-and-comer, and you’ll also see him in the Cup Series racing on Sundays in a short amount of time.”

“Drivers really bring it up a notch when there’s fans. They’ll be doing the burnouts, there will be driver intros … driving around, waving at the fans. There’s definitely a different energy so it’s great to have fans back this weekend,” he said.

A “Virtual Garage” at lvms.com features driver statistics and more information for fans who won’t get to attend this year.

“When we had the pandemic last year, when we came back without fans, we really tried to ramp up our engagement because they couldn’t come,” Forde said. “And we wanted to bring our great sport to those fans, and we’re going to continue that in 2021 even though there are fans in the stands this year.”

The first race is Friday night at 6 p.m., and Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube starts at 12:30 p.m.

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