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NASCAR officials now studying installing 'soft walls' at Watkins Glen...and planning a new 2012 preseason preview -- in Charlotte

  Remember the long-running annual January Winston Cup Preview in Winston-Salem? NASCAR and Sprint are reviving the highly successful promotion for January 2012, in Charlotte.

   By Mike Mulhern


   Good news!
   And this is something stock car racing fans have been clamoring for for years.
   So circle Sept. 20th on your calendar.That's when tickets go on sale.

   Remember R. J. Reynolds' old Winston Cup tour Preview, the annual January pre-season hoopla day-long affair at the Coliseum in Winston-Salem, with all the Cup tour drivers and their cars and haulers and souvenirs, and a big show?
   A sellout every January, snow or ice or sunny skies, with fans coming from all over, 25,000 strong, like clockwork.
   Alas, when Reynolds dropped out of NASCAR tour sponsorships, NASCAR execs decided to drop the Winston-Salem preview.
   Instead NASCAR began promoting something modestly similar at Daytona International Speedway during January pre-Speedweeks testing. However that was a big flop, with very small turnouts.
   And two years ago NASCAR dropped January Daytona testing altogether.
   But now NASCAR, after years of pressure to put on a pre-season preview in North Carolina, will indeed finally be doing just that – reviving the old Winston Cup tour Preview, with some interesting new twists, in a weekend package set for next January at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte, and at the nearby Charlotte Convention Center.
   The new Preview will be part of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony – previously held in May, but now set for Friday evening Jan. 20th. in Charlotte.
   The three-day event, billed as 'NASCAR Acceleration Weekend,' will feature a Saturday 'NASCAR Preview 2012,' with drivers from all three national touring series. Sunday will include the unveiling of some new exhibits in the Hall of Fame.
   The precise schedule of events and which drivers may actually be on hand is not yet set.


  NASCAR president Mike Helton: talking about have Watkins Glen International installing soft walls at certain dangerous sections of the track, following Monday's bad crashes and driver complaints (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



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