Stewart wreck brings spotlight on sprint cars

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Though Stewart’s wreck came at the height of the sprint car season, few expect it to put a dent in the party.

Drivers and fans from all over the world come to Knoxville, a town of just 7,000 residents and the self-proclaimed “Dirt Racin’ Capital of the World,” to create an atmosphere that’s as much of a weeklong tailgate party as anything.

Knoxville Raceway general manager Brian Stickel said nationals, which end Saturday night, will draw nearly 35,000 for the title race _ worth $150,000 to the winner. Stickel said Stewart’s involvement in sprint car racing has been very helpful for the sport. But the Knoxville Nationals, now in their 53rd year, certainly don’t need NASCAR star power to draw a big crowd.

“The way we look at it is, stuff like that happens all the time in all different sports,” Stickel said. “It really doesn’t affect anything we do. We wish (Stewart) was healed and here, but their team will still do their job … and Tony, I’m sure, will heal and I’m sure he’ll get back in a sprint car.”

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