Note to Tal­ladega fans this week­end: Gas up early

The Covington News - - Sports - As­so­ci­ated Press

TAL­LADEGA, Ala. — Here's some ad­vice for the thou­sands of NASCAR fans driv­ing to ru­ral Alabama this week­end in a swarm of gas­guz­zling trucks and RVs: Don't wait un­til the last minute to fill up.

Fuel short­ages haven't been as bad in Alabama as some South­east­ern states, but sup­plies are still spotty and there's only a hand­ful of gas sta­tions near the Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way, site of this week­end's races.

A spokesman for AAA Alabama, Clay In­gram, said there shouldn't be any "ma­jor prob­lems" find­ing gas around the track, which is lo­cated on In­ter­state 20 about 40 miles east of Birm­ing­ham and 95 miles west of At­lanta.

"But at the same time, it wouldn't be a bad idea for peo­ple to gas up be­fore they get into the area," he said. "When you get 200,000 to 250,000 peo­ple com­ing into a small area like that, you don't know what's go­ing to hap­pen."

The track will play host to the ARCA RE/MAX 250 on Fri­day, the Moun­tain Dew 250 truck race on Satur­day and the AMP En­ergy 500 on Sun­day.

Many NASCAR fans drive hun­dreds of miles to get to the races, and su­per­speed­way spokes­woman Kristi King said track of­fi­cials are con­fi­dent that fans will be able to find enough gas.

Sup­pli­ers

have

as­sured track ex­ec­u­tives that short­ages caused by hur­ri­canes Gus­tav and Ike are im­prov­ing daily. Race fans don't all show up at once, she said, and that lessens the strain on the lo­cal gas sup­ply.

"There is gas out there," King said. "It may not be at the first place you stop to find it."

Oil dis­trib­u­tors sell­ing gas around Tal­ladega say an area petroleum ter­mi­nal that sup­plies fuel to gas sta­tions at Wal-Mart stores may be part of the rea­son that some pumps at com­pet­ing sta­tions are dry.

Paul Wells, the vice pres­i­dent for re­tail op­er­a­tions at Arkansas-based Mur­phy Oil Corp., which owns the ter­mi­nal, said the com­pany pro­vides fuel to Mur­phy USA gas sta­tions out­side Wal-Mart stores be­fore it sells gaso­line to other, com­pet­ing ser­vice sta­tions.

"We're mak­ing sure our other Mur­phy USA sta­tions have prod­uct and that's just log­i­cal," Wells said. "It's nice to be able to help out a com­peti­tor when you can, but at the end of the day we have to make sure our own sites have gaso­line first."

Gary Har­ris, vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of Green Oil Co. in Ox­ford, said trucks haul­ing to Mur­phy sta­tions are com­ing to the Alabama ter­mi­nal from as far as Sa­van­nah, Ga., and South Carolina to pick up fuel.

"The way I feel, the gas should have stayed in our ra­dius," Har­ris said. "That's the rea­son the ter­mi­nal was put here."

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