NASCAR fans flocked to Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend for Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 playoff race.
Spectators from all corners of the country were on hand as thousands packed the venue to watch the first race of the Round of 12, a three-race segment of the playoffs that will help determine who moves on to the Round of 8.
“First-ever NASCAR event and it’s been worth every penny to get down here,” Ohio native and businessman Connor Hopkins told NBC 5 DFW.
Texas Motor Speedway says attendance has been down in recent years, and the staff is working hard to design creative activities and fanfare around the races to attract more crowds.
“We’re a big ship, and we don’t turn very fast, but we’re making some great inroads, working with the folks in Fort Worth, working with the folks in Dallas, and trying to build back what we had in the past,” Texas Motor Speedway spokesperson David Hart told NBC 5. “We’re very happy. Thousands more bought tickets this year than last. We need to de-couch people, give them a reason to come back out to the racetrack and see it. See it in person, be a part of it.”
Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron won Sunday’s race, sealing a spot in the Round of Eight and earning Hendrick’s 300th NASCAR win, the most of any racing team.
“I don’t know if I can even put it into words,” Byron told the media after the race. “I was such a Hendrick Motorsports fan growing up as a kid watching Jimmie Johnson, and [I] became really fond of Jeff Gordon as I got to know him. Just thankful for all the men and women back at Hendrick Motorsports. … Just appreciate all Rick Hendrick has done for me. This is awesome. We’re really going to enjoy this one.”
Byron took the lead after a late restart and passed 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace to lead for the final six laps, finish in the top 15 for the fourth consecutive playoff race, and win his first playoff race of the season.
The Round of 12 continues this weekend with the Yellawood 500 at Talladega Speedway on Sunday, followed by the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following week.
The Round of 8 begins on October 15 in Las Vegas, and the championships will be held in Phoenix on November 5.