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Kentucky Speedway prepares for racing as NASCAR steers through controversy

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SPARTA, Ky. (WDRB) -- As NASCAR rolls into Kentucky Speedway, it brings with it new concerns about safety and controversy surrounding the Confederate flag.

Kentucky's biggest auto racing event of the year fires up this week at Kentucky Speedway.

“This is a good track right here,” said Ira Smith of Illinois.

Race teams and fans are arriving, but in the back of everyone's minds is the horrific crash last week at Daytona.

“You like to see a little wreck once in awhile, but nothing like that,” said Richard East of northern Indiana.

The driver, Austin Dillon, walked away with minor injuries, but five fans in the stands were also hurt.

Fans say they know the risk.

“I got hit with little pieces of rubber in my face. That’s part of NASCAR,” said Smith.

Kentucky Speedway is considered one of the most difficult tracks in NASCAR because of its rough surface.

But officials here say its collision barriers and catch fence are state of the art.

“It's like a catcher’s mitt the way it’s constructed, said Speedway spokesman Tim Bray.

While the Speedway wants to see a safe race, it does not want to see the Confederate flag.

NASCAR is asking fans not to fly it, and the Speedway is setting up an exchange service.

“We can exchange for an American flag. Maybe for your favorite driver, you can get that as well; or perhaps, if you want, a Kentucky Speedway flag. We can give that to you as well,” said Bray.

But if Richard East has his way, the exchange will not have much business.

“I don't think NASCAR has any business telling people what to fly – what kind of flag to fly. In fact, I will fly my Confederate flag,” he said.

The engines get started on Wednesday when practice begins, followed by the truck race on Thursday, the Xfinity race Friday, and the Quaker state 400 on Saturday night.

More: Earnhardt wins rain-delayed Daytona ahead of Dillon's crash

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