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Demand for tickets causes problems at Atlanta venue

Charles Odum Associated Press

HAMPTON, Ga. – The inaugural Labor Day race weekend and Atlanta Motor Speedway’s first scheduled night race combined to boost attendance.

The stronger demand for tickets also created some problems.

Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark apologized to fans who experienced difficulty when they were unable to purchase tickets online this week.

“It’s a buzz like we haven’t seen around here for a long time,” Clark said Sunday.

NASCAR does not release official attendance figures. Several reporters estimated attendance for the Pep Boys Auto 500 as about 100,000, a big increase from the estimated attendance of 60,000 for the Kobalt Tools 500 in March.

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp estimated attendance at 100,000 to 110,000 for Sunday night’s race.

Clark said on some days ticket sales for this weekend’s races have been twice as strong as in recent years. Atlanta’s fall race moved to Labor Day weekend this year, a more attractive date than its previous slot in October.

“It has exceeded probably what we expected,” Clark said. “I’ve talked to a lot of the people who are here and they’re very tickled that we’re doing this on Labor Day weekend.”

One advantage: Thanks to the holiday, many fans could enjoy Sunday night’s race without worrying about getting up early for work on Monday.

The turnout for Sunday night’s race was noticeably larger than for track’s race in March.

“We’ve continued to add ticket sellers and expand our ticket office hours, and still we aren’t fully meeting the demand,” Clark said.

“Customer service is really critical to us. I don’t like it if even one person is having difficulty. Look, if somebody is trying to spend money with us, I ought to make it as easy as I can. We know we’ve got some things we’ve got to do better.”

AMS officials reported “near-record” ticket sales on Friday and Saturday and a single-day record for sales on Monday. AMS did not release the number of tickets sold.

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