CONCORD, N.C. -- You'd think two consecutive weekends of racing would be all the Charlotte area could handle. As it turns out, it's only one of several headlining events being staged this weekend in the Queen City.
Tonight's The Winston all-star race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, located about 12 miles from downtown Charlotte, will attract about 140,000 race fans.
At the same time, the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament will continue at Knight's Castle in Fort Mill, S.C., which is 12 miles south of downtown.
And if that wasn't enough, the National Rifle Association is holding its annual meeting in the city. That's supposed to attract more than 50,000 visitors.
The NRA convention got off to a fast start when a man in South Charlotte shot and killed an intruder early Friday. The police said the shooting was justified since the homeowner, his wife and his mother were being threatened by the intruder.
The baseball tournament and gun convention will move out of town on Sunday, but the race cars will stay behind. The Coca-Cola 600 is scheduled at the Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 28. That race will draw a stock car crowd of about 200,000.
THE MAN OF STEELE ON THE POLE:
Tim Steele made a successful return to the Lowe's Motor Speedway by winning the pole position for tonight's EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100 for the ARCA Series.
Steele hadn't been to the 1.5-mile raceway since 1997. His qualifying lap of 182.340 mph established a track record for the ARCA Series.
"This 2000 Taurus -- man, Ford did their homework on this thing," the all-time winningest driver in ARCA history said. "You can't believe how much better these cars are now. It's just awesome. Compared to what the Thunderbird was like around here (in 1997), this is a whole new ballgame.
"We're here to win. We've got 50 percent of the job done with winning the pole. Right now, it looks like we're the car to beat."
Steele dropped off the circuit in 1998 after he sustained a concussion while testing in Atlanta. Since then, he's made only a handful of starts on the ARCA and Craftsman Truck series.
Darrell Lanigan will start on the outside pole after qualifying at 181.855 mph. Shawna Robinson is third at 181.220 mph, followed by Kirk Shelmerdine in fourth at 180.977, Carl Long in fifth at 180.953, Mike Swaim Jr. in sixth at 180.771, Mark Claussner in seventh at 180.433, Dan Pardus in eighth at 180.210, Robert Burroughs in ninth at 180.084 and Kerry Earnhardt in 10th at 179.814.
Former Atlanta Falcons football coach Jerry Glanville qualified 13th at 178.962 mph, while Justin Labonte, son of two-time Winston Cup Series Champion Terry Labonte, was 24th at 176.956.
How much power does it take to run a speedway two of the busiest racing weekends of the year? Enough to power a single house for 70 years.
Officials at Duke Power said the Lowe's Motor Speedway will burn more than 900,000 kilowatt hours as more than 300,000 fans fill the massive complex for tonight's The Winston all-star race and the May 28 Coca-Cola 600.
That electric won't come cheap. It will cost track owner Bruton Smith about $65,000 -- or the cost of 21,600 speedway hot dogs -- for two weeks worth of power at the speedway.
Kyle Petty not only will skip tonight's all-star race, but he will miss next week's Coca-Cola 600. Petty is still mourning the loss of his 19-year-old son, Adam, who died May 12 while practicing at the New Hampshire International Speedway. Kyle Petty's No. 44 Hot Wheels Pontiac will be driven by Steve Grissom during the 600 ... Kevin Lepage's Ford Taurus will carry the colors of Clemson University during the all-star weekend ... Speedway officials said there will be more than 20,000 recreational vehicles on their property in the next week.
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