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'Battle at Bristol' coaches Beamer, Jones to be grand marshals for NASCAR race

Though the game is still two years away, promotions for the Though the game is still two years away, promotions for the "Battle at Bristol" are well underway. (Wade Payne/AP)

Tennessee and Virginia Tech will play in a college football game at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016, a matchup hailed as the "Battle at Bristol." This weekend the coaches for the two teams will head to the track to take in an actual NASCAR race.

Bristol Motor Speedway announced on Monday that Hokies coach Frank Beamer and Volunteers coach Butch Jones will serve as co-grand marshals for NASCAR's Food City 500 on Sunday.

The event serves as the latest bit of promotion for the "Battle at Bristol," which will kick off on Sept. 10, 2016. The schools announced the meeting in October, and expect the game to potentially draw 160,000 fans, which would be an NCAA record.

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Beamer said that the opportunity to serve as grand marshal at Bristol makes him more excited for the matchup with Tennessee in 2016.

"As I said in my book, Let Me Be Frank, I think Butch Jones has the right 'stuff,'" Beamer said. "I think he is going to have a great career at Tennessee. To be the Co-Grand Marshal with him is a pleasure as we represent the two schools that have a lot of fans in this area. Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most exciting sports venues that I know and like to visit, and we look forward to playing Tennessee there in 2016 before the largest crowd to ever watch a football game."

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Jones echoed Beamer's excitement for the game, which will take place at a midpoint between the schools' campuses in Knoxville and Blackburg.

"I am honored to once again have the opportunity to travel to Bristol Motor Speedway and play a role, along with Coach Beamer, in the Food City 500," said Jones. "We are very much looking forward to breaking the all-time college football attendance record in September 2016 at Bristol. While our game is still two years away, I had such a great time at last year's race that I wanted to return to Bristol to witness again one of NASCAR's most iconic and exciting events."

Jones served as grand marshal during last year's race at Bristol, while Beamer served as honorary starter for the Food City 500 in 2005.

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