Racing and weather may keep fans on the edge of their seats at Kansas Speedway

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It won’t be stock cars taking center stage alone this weekend. The weather will as well.

NASCAR spokespeople tell FOX 4 News they're expecting as many as 100,000 people, many of whom won't have a place to hide if heavy weather sets in.

NASCAR fans are accustomed to sitting on the edges of their seats. The suspense will grow, beginning with Thursday night's likelihood of heavy rain, and race fanatics who won't have shelter if this weather event becomes severe.

For fans in the speedway infield, a storm could be devastating. Kansas Speedway can accommodate over 100,000 fans, many of whom plan to sleep in RVs for the weekend.

“We do a lot of work in contingency planning,” Pat Warren, Kansas Speedway President, said, pointing out the size of the mile-and-a-half paved oval, and that protecting everyone would be impossible.

“We think primarily about the safety of our fans and our guests,” Warren said. “We have signs in the stands and the grandstands that say ‘know your plan.’ We're like any other facility that holds tens of thousands of people. You can't build a storm shelter big enough.”

Finding a place to hide is hard for fans in motorcoaches, half of whom have traveled from the 250 mile radius around Kansas City.

Weather has Sheila Nygaard's attention. She and her family from South Dakota attend races at the speedway in the spring and fall, and her eyes are fixed on her weather apps.

“We'll just hang out and see what the track says and we'll go from there,” Nygaard said. “We'll have a great time whether it's rain or shine or whatever.”

Shawnee's Patrick Meier says if weather gets bad enough, he and the family will simply drive 12 miles to their home in Johnson County.

“You're constantly watching on your phone or on the TVs,” Meier said. “There's no place to protect yourselves here in the infield.”

If heavy rain arrives, it could affect the race schedule for Friday, when the Camping World Truck Series is scheduled to run, and Saturday Night, when the Sprint Cup Series takes the track.

Warren told reporters today NASCAR is prepared to delay racing for as long as it takes to be safe, even if it means breaking with the sport's tradition, and racing on Mother's Day, which is a time-honored tradition within the sport.

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