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AAA debunks rumor of gas price spike during race week

Kevin Castle • Aug 20, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Some Northeast Tennessee drivers have speculated over the years that area gas stations raise prices during race week in Bristol. But according to AAA East Tennessee, that’s not true.

AAA East Tennessee looked at the price of regular unleaded gasoline in and around Bristol Motor Speedway during race week for the past five years.

AAA public relations specialist Stephanie Milani said the comparison was based on prices the day of the race, which always fell on a Saturday, and prices two days before and two days after the race.

“It doesn’t appear that the averages increased because of the race. That’s not to say a station didn’t raise the price, but if they did it wasn’t enough to affect the average,” said Milani.

In the base city of Bristol beginning with August 2004, the price actually dropped from $1.76 per gallon on Thursday to $1.73 on Friday, then jumped four cents to $1.77 on Saturday. Prices then dropped to $1.75 for the remainder of that weekend.

For the remaining four years in the survey, 2005-2008, gas prices in Bristol only fluctuated by two to three cents, and it was usually downward.

The prices in Kingsport remained consistent in those five years, with prices dropping one to two cents in the days leading up to the race.

In Johnson City, prices either dropped or increased by just one cent from 2004 to 2006 in those race weeks. In 2007, the price remained at $2.58 per gallon throughout the period, while the price rose by three cents prior to Saturday last year then decreased by two cents the next day.

In every city, last year’s gasoline prices were the most expensive for unleaded in the Tri-Cities during Bristol race week, when the average retail price was $3.46 per gallon.

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