Johnson City Press: Food City 500 weekend — What fans need to know
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Food City 500 weekend — What fans need to know

Jeff Birchfield • Mar 31, 2019 at 5:24 PM

The 59th running of the Food City 500 is scheduled for Sunday, April 7 at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race caps off a week of big events.

A major theme of this year’s race weekend is a celebration of Dale Earnhardt’s first career Cup Series win at Bristol 40 years ago. BMS will celebrate with an old victory lane display that pays homage to the win in the Fan Midway near the track’s Hospitality Village.

A 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS has been wrapped in the colors of the No. 2 blue-and-yellow paint scheme. Fans are encouraged to visit the display and sign the checkered board floor with their memories of Earnhardt.

In addition, the race program will include a throwback look with a photo of Earnhardt celebrating in victory lane on the cover. The first 10,000 fans through the gates will receive a free poster from a painting by motorsports artist Bill Patterson.

Before action gets started on the track, the fan favorite BMS Transporter Parade will take place Thursday night. NASCAR haulers will depart the Bass Pro Shops at the Pinnacle in Bristol around 7 p.m. and make the nine-mile trek to the speedway.

RACING SCHEDULE

Spectator gates open at 1 p.m. Friday with Food City 500 practice to start at 1:35 p.m. Food City Family Race Night starts at 4 p.m. in the BMS hospitality area. Bush’s Beans Pole Day starts at 6:10 p.m. with qualifying for the Cup Series, followed by qualifying for the K&N Series Zombie Auto 150.

Saturday sees the spectator gates open at 8:30 a.m., which coincides with a second Food City 500 practice session. Qualifying for the Xfinity Series Alsco 300 is at 9:35 a.m. It’s followed by the final Cup Series practice. The Alsco 300 race is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the Zombie Auto 150 is at 4 p.m.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Sunday with a pre-race concert by country music star Randy Houser at 12:20 p.m. The green flag for the Food City 500 waves at 2 p.m.

Kyle Busch is the defending champion in the Food City 500. He has seven Bristol Cup Series victories to lead all active drivers and a track-record 21 wins at BMS over NASCAR’s three national series.

BMS will once again host the first of four NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash events at the Alsco 300. It means the race will be made up entirely of series regulars and four competitors — defending series champion Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe and Michael Annett — will be competing for a $100,000 bonus.

FAN EXPERIENCE

There are the new half-mile hangouts on the concourse level of the track which offer comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, charging stations, games and craft beer selections.

A premium experience is the Turn 1 Tavern, an indoor/outdoor site that has a cigar-lounge feel complete with leather, theatre-style seating, brick walls reminiscent of a speakeasy and a large selection of bourbon and other spirits.

WEATHER, PARKING AND CAMPING

BMS is again providing fans with a Weather Guarantee meaning if the race is postponed to the next day due to weather, a ticket credit can be issued towards a qualifying NASCAR race at any Speedway Motorsports track.

Free parking is provided for fans at White Top Creek Park with shuttle service provided to speedway property. In addition, BMS operates paid fan parking off Highway 394. Parking is free Friday, $10 on Saturday and $20 on Sunday. A two-day, Saturday/Sunday pass is available for $25.

Satellite parking sites are available at ETSU parking lot No. 9 in Johnson City, at Sullivan North High School in Kingsport, Sullivan Central High School in Blountville and Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol, Virginia. Guests will be provided shuttle service to BMS at $20 per round trip.

Three BMS-owned campgrounds will be open until Monday morning, April 8, if fans want to extend their overall stay.

FOR THE KIDS

In addition, there is special kids and teen pricing. Kids 12 and under can attend both Friday and Saturday action free. Admission for Sunday is only $10 with a paying adult. These tickets must be purchased either at the BMS ticket office or the track’s official online ticketing website.

The In-Race Activity Park can be picked up at any guest services location and includes a coloring book, activity sheets, sticks and more.

The revamped BMS Kids Zone, located off Volunteer Parkway, features a racing simulator, video games, euro bungee, a rock wall, inflatables, face painting and other activities.

Check out the weekly race notes in the Johnson City Press and Kingsport Times News in Wednesday’s newspapers for more events with Speedway Children’s Charities.

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