DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -

Fans are starting to pack the Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 over the weekend.

Crews were working to prepare the stands and track for the thousands of people expected to make their way to Daytona Beach. Race officials said ticket sales are on pace with last year's sales.

Restaurant and hotel managers in the area are expecting the race to generate a typical boom in the business, but some are weary since the Fourth of July holiday was on Wednesday and the races didn't officially start until the weekend.

Local 6 spoke to one attendee who made the 14-hour drive from Indiana.

"For one thing its cooler, here than it is back home, so that's a plus, and I just like NASCAR," Frank Haas told Local 6.

Robert Munro of Orlando told Local 6 he paid $750 for his spot on the inner field but said he's not as packed as he thought it would be.

"I'm guessing it's the economy but I've noticed that when you watch NASCAR races on TV, the stands have a lot of empty seats in them," Munro said.

The event schedule is:

  • Friday: Subway Jalapeno 250 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: 54th annual Coke Zero 400 at 7:30 p.m.

The race marks the first big event since the no smoking in the grandstand ban, which was enacted earlier this year. There are certain designated areas where attendees are allowed to smoke.

It's also the first Sprint  Cup race since the crash where a racer crashed into a jet dryer, shooting flames into the air and damaging the track. Crews have repaved that part of the track in March and NASCAR now requires drivers of the jet dryers to wear fire suits and helmets.

Those who aren't in town for the races are heading to the beach. On the Fourth of July the beach was so packed officials had to close some of the entrances starting at 10 a.m.

"Just watching a car go around a track over and over doesn't please me," said Margie Wemyss. "I will take this beach any day."

Daytona Police suggest taking State Road 40 or State Road 421 to avoid traffic from the International Speedway.

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.