What traffic issue?

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&Ms Red-White-Blue Toyota, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 30, 2012 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SPARTA, Ky. — A combination of massive improvements in infrastructure and a lower car count eradicated the traffic problem that limited access to Kentucky Speedway last year.

“I’m very pleased with the all the changes we made,” said track owner Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. “We spent millions and millions of dollars. Our state of Kentucky spent millions. What used to be a two-lane road out here, (Highway) 35, is basically operating now at seven lanes, so that’s a huge advantage . . .

“We’ve done a lot of things here to accommodate the race fans and make it much nicer and fan-friendly.

“The highway patrol has been very, very involved in preparing and training all year, and they’ve done an outstanding job. We’ve been looking at their reports every 15 minutes today (Saturday), and traffic is moving.”

Acknowledging that Saturday’s crowd would be smaller than last year’s, Smith conceded that attending a debut race held an attraction for certain fans.

“We could blame the heat wave,” Smith said before Saturday night’s Quaker State 400. “We could blame a lot of different things. When you are new and different, and it’s the first, a lot of times fans respond — they want to be at the inaugural. Last year, that was the inaugural.

“I can assure you that we will have a big crowd. It will be in excess of 100,000. That to me is a plus. It won’t be sold out, in my opinion, but if we make a mistake and sell it out, so be it. We’re prepared in every way here in case something like that should happen.”

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