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Fans who parked in free lot at Las Vegas had to wait to leave until after paid lot emptied

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Fans who parked for free in a Las Vegas Motor Speedway parking lot during Sunday's Sprint Cup race were forced to wait to leave until after fans in a paid parking lot left.

A man who wrote a letter to the speedway and local public officials was irate at what happened. He says that speedway parking attendants as well as Las Vegas Police and Nevada Highway Patrol officers prevented fans, including himself, from leaving until those who paid $59 to park had left.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“This is an illegal act! You cannot detain patrons against their will, without their consent, when there is no safety issue, no lives are at stake — when the only reason is LVMS wants to give priority exit status to paid parking patrons,” David Morehouse wrote in a Monday email to speedway President Chris Powell and local public officials. “The act is unconscionable, and should be punishable by fine or class action lawsuit.”

Morehouse recalled in his letter that an angry veteran stood in front of the locked gate and said, “I’ve just served my country for 18 months in Afghanistan, only to come back here and have you lock me in a parking lot like an animal. When did Nevada become a police state?”

The president of LVMS, Chris Powell, said that he regretted what happened after the race and that it was a communication breakdown between speedway officials and parking lot attendants. Powell said that the speedway originally planned to lock the gate but changed its mind. However, the change was not communicated.

“I failed to communicate to proper personnel,” Powell told the Review-Journal. “We had a breakdown in communication and it will not happen again.”

He also apologized to Morehouse.

While we'll fully acknowledge being locked in a free lot to wait for people to leave who spent an exorbitant amount of money to park is absurd, it's also imperative to note that Morehouse left the race with 40 laps to go. He wanted to beat traffic, but ended up waiting for two hours. While Las Vegas traffic is some of the worst in NASCAR, is missing the final 15 percent of a race the best idea?

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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